• 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


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  • Links of the day 20/05/2011

    Stephen Altrogee has got a nice post on how we got our bible.

    Do you Influence or Control your church/ group/ team? This was thought provoking.

    Tim Challies wrote a thoughtful blog about how he gets things done.

    James Macdonald has two more videos from the Elephant Room. One on pornography and one on playing to your strengths.

    Here are Eight things every pastor needs to remember before a day of ministry.

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  • 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?


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  • Links of the day 19/05/2011

    A video of the best Marriage proposal ever!

    Michael Jensen has got an interesting post about Godly church politics

    My favourite video of the year. Do you know what the G.O.S.P.E.L is?

    I have found my dumb tweet for the week here

    A great post on What good Pastors say

    A great post by John Acuff on the tweets that matters most

    This is a challenging post by Tony Morgan on Churches paying people when they don’t do their Job


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  • Links of the Day

    Australia’s own John Dickson is speaking at this years Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Has anyone ever attended one of these conferences? If so what did you think?

    Theologian N.T. Wright has written a provocative piece called What Stephen Hawking doesn’t understand about Heaven

    Here is an interesting idea for how to grow your church using Facebook

    ESPN has a great article about  a College Basketball Coach choosing family over career

    All of the audio is up from the 2011 Gospel Coalition Conference

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  • How to come out of Bible College a normal human being

    Something weird happens to a lot of people when they are at Bible College, I call it Biblecollegeitis. You know if you have Biblecollegeitis if any of the following are true:

    • When someone asks you about the origin (The State of Origin) you think they were talking about the heretic Origen and reply “Yeah I don’t like him he was a heretic.”
    • You think that the most interesting aspect of 24 is Jack Bauer’s utilitarianism not the fact that he kills a bunch of people and saves the world from nuclear destruction.
    • You act like being right is always more important than relationships.
    • Your vocabulary rivals that of Don Carson’s.
    • You think if people haven’t read the book you have just finished they are obviously not as well read or as intelligent as you.
    • You think you need to correct everyone on everything or have an opinion on everything.
    • You would rather read a profound book than a faithful book.
    • You believe in your heart that the people at your church don’t really know how to run a church, manage their lives, raise their kids or even think and that is why they need someone with a Bible college degree telling them how to do these things.
    • You have used the word fructify in a sentence in the last two weeks.
    • You think Barth is a great evangelical theologian who got the Bible right when in reality he was a liberal who confuses the gospel.

    If this is you, don’t worry help is here. I didn’t want to be this kind of guy coming out of Bible College. I wasn’t entirely successful at coming out Bible college a normal person and I have had people at my church lovingly knock a few edges off me. But here are some things that I did through Bible College that helped me be semi normal when I finished.

    1. I had loads of non Christian friends. I think I had more non Christian friends than I did Christian friends. This was great because I was in touch with the people I wanted to lead to Jesus. I heard where they were at, I prayed for them, I laughed with them, I cried with them. I worked my butt off to not be enveloped by the Christian ghetto that was my Bible college. (By the way I love the college I went to and wouldn’t trade my time there for the world!) When was the last time you hung out with a non Christian?
    2. I had my sermons critiqued by lay people. Here are some of the things that were said about my preaching. “You didn’t understand us”, “You didn’t connect with us”, “that was a Lazy way to make that point!” “What the hell was that all about?!?” This did hurt but what it made me do was understand the people at church and seek to craft my sermons to communicate to them. When was the last time you got feedback from a lay person about your sermons?
    3. I tried to listen to people’s lives. I went out to lunch with the 40 year old single woman and the man who was in his third marriage and the wife of the unbelieving husband and many others as well. My time with them was not just about what I could do for them (although I hope I helped them by pointing them to Jesus and his gospel) my time with them was about hearing their stories. Hearing how hard it was to be divorced, hearing how hard it was to be single for the last 20 years, hearing how hard it was to have your kids walk away from Jesus because they are following their unbelieving father.  I listened and I found that I knew a lot about theology but these guys could teach me so much about applying that theology. I realised that when it came to life I was a baby and these people were veterans. I just listened and learnt.
    4. I had normal fun. I played Bball, I did gigs, I saw movies and musicals and bands. I tried to have a normal life and tried to know what was happening in the real world.
    5. I had Christian friends who laughed and joked a lot. My saving grace in college sometimes was my friends at college. We ripped each other off constantly, we laughed at each other, we laughed at the stupid parts of Christian culture. We laughed and laughed and laughed. We made sure we took Jesus seriously and but not ourselves.

    The question is not whether or not you will be a perfect preacher or a great theologian or pastor when you come out of college, the real question is will you be a person who is able to relate to people, who is able to be approachable, who loves people and who comes across as loving, a person who truly believes the Bible but will be able to lovingly share your beliefs with your church or youth group. Will you be that person when you are handed your degree?


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  • Let’s not waste our time

    A man has no time for which he is not accountable to God. If his very diversions are not governed by reason and religion he will one day suffer for the time he has spent in them. Thomas Watson

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  • Links of the Day 17/05/2011

    Mark Driscoll has a great post on the Crisis of Conference Christians

    Are you as sick of hearing about the world ending this sunday? Al Mohler has got an article about heresies of the guy who started all this junk. Also here is a 5 part series critiquing his beliefs.

    Here is an excellent reminder of not comparing ourselves to the likes of Keller, Carson, Chandler etc.

    You can get Mark Goodacre’s book on the synoptic problem as a free PDF here

    Check out Joe Thorn’s great blog on Rebuilding a Healthy Schedule

    The Guardian has a very interesting interview with Lady Gaga

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  • Days Five and Six at Capitol Hill Baptist

    Day five was the end of the 9 Marks conference. We got to share about what we learnt and were encouraged by and then it was all over. For lunch I got to hang out with my very close friend Matt Freeman who is Mark Dever’s PA. In the afternoon I went to play Bball with some of the Cap Hill staff and some guys who were down at the court. It was fun to let loose and play some ball. My team won which is always nice. I also go called Steve by some people who were watching us because I sounded like Steve Irwin! I guess you can never blend in the crowd when you have a Bogan accent!

    Day six was the day I flew out and I had the great opportunity to sit down with Matt Freeman and Gary Ricucci. Gary was one of the founding members of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg Maryland and is now there on the pastoral staff. We talked about their view of charismatic gifts and how the gift of prophecy works out in their church service (on this see below), church government and how Covenant Life got started.

    As I said, I asked Gary about the way prophecy functions in their church services. He said that at Covenant life they have a ministry microphone which is manned by two Elders and if someone feels like God has given them a word to the congregation they approach the Elders at the microphone and tell them what God has given them to share. It is the elder’s job to discern whether or not this word is from God and is suitable for the church at this time. If the elders think the word is appropriate the person with the word can share it with the congregation. If not the person does not share the word but goes back to their seat. I asked Gary about what gets shared and he said mostly stuff like “I feel God is telling me that people are working too much on their jobs and spending not enough time with their families.” There is not much predictive prophecy but they are open to this. He also told me that if the ushers feel like a person is drawing attention to themself in the corporate gathering they will be commended on their enthusiasm but asked if they are drawing more attention to themselves than Jesus. Even though I do not consider myself a charismatic I felt that this approach to gifts of the spirit and charismatic worship was extremely sane and I believe my brother Gary to be very sound theologically and would trust him to preach at Resolved. We also talked about church government and Gary said he totally disagreed with congregational church government which was an interesting conversation in light of CHBC’s view that congregationalism is biblical.

    After a short drive to the airport where Matt and I chatted more about church government and what we learnt from Gary I got on my plane and flew back home…..

    Points of Learning

    Who are our enemies? One of the things I can’t stand about conservative evangelicalism in Sydney is its view that anyone who calls themselves a charismatic is a threat to the gospel. A few years ago at a training event Phillip Jensen and John Woodhouse talked about “the silver bullet” that some people think that the Reformed Charismatic is. The conversation that followed was obviously slanted against the movement. Within their sights was some dudes in Sydney who are being influenced by Driscoll, Piper , Mahaney et al and calling themselves Reformed Charismatics. Another example of thinking that all charismatics are a threat to the gospel happened in 2009 when Ed Loane (who is a beautiful human being by the way) gave the centennial address at the Anglican Church league dinner. After he gave a brilliant history of Sydney Anglicans and evangelicalism he finished with these words:

    Well the truth is, while our challenges might not be ritualism or modernism, evangelical truth is still challenged. Whether it’s the new perspective, the charismatic movement or something else, we must not get complacent and think Sydney evangelicalism is invincible – the challenges remain.[1]

    Is the charismatic movement really a challenge to the gospel like the new perspective is? No way in hell!!! Sure the charismatic movement’s excesses are disastrous to the gospel but if we lump guys like Gary and CJ Mahney into the same group as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland we are guilty of slander in the highest degree. The reformed charismatic guys hate the excesses of the charismatic movement just as much as any reformed brother does. So we need to realize that these brothers are not our enemies but co workers in the gospel. I think it is also interesting that people bang on about the charismatic movement being wrong but we don’t talk about the fact that in our theological colleges inerrancy is denied, Neo Orthodoxy is praised and that some of our ministers are clearly in the New Perspective camp. All this being said we need a dose of reality when we think of who are enemies are and who our co workers are.

    Generosity – When I went out to lunch with people in the states I never had to pay once. They saw me as their guest and a brother in Christ and I always got shouted. This generosity was very humbling and beautiful and one thing I want to learn from our American brothers.

    If you have been reading these blogs about what I learnt at Capitol Hill I would suggest that you go over to the conference or at least subscribe to the Nine Marks e-journal.


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  • People don’t drift towards holiness

    Hard work is not the opposite of grace, it is the result of experiencing grace.

    D. A. Carson explains:

    People do not drift toward Holiness.

    Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

    We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.
    (For the Love of God, Volume 2, paragraphing mine)

    Thanks to Josh Etter for this post


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