Friday, April 24, 2015

contentment (2) the secret

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to feel content. I’d love to feel fulfilled. At peace. Like I’m not missing anything. I’d love to feel satisfied with my life.

And that’s exactly what contentment means. If you look in a modern dictionary, it means “happy” or “satisfied”. The word usually translated “contentment” in the New Testament means “enough”, “sufficiency”, or even “self-sufficiency”. Contentment means to be satisfied with what we have.

In his famous book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs goes a little deeper. He says,
Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to, and delights in, God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.
That’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it? Not to want more. Not to complain about our burdens. But to freely and gladly accept what God chooses to give us, at all times and in all places. Now that’s contentment.

But how do you get it? In Philippians 4:2, Paul says he learned the “secret” of being content in every circumstance. What’s the secret, the key that unlocks the door to contentment? Here’s what some people have to say ...

You can read the rest of this article at The Gospel Coalition

Thursday, April 23, 2015

online meanderings

Does Jesus really love me?

God's grace will find you, even in the shadow of death. 

Losing a baby; not losing my faith - A wonderful article.

In every marriage, there is already the seed of divorce - The question is what we will do with the seed.

You are on assignment from God - I like what he says about gifts and humility.

How should writers and editors work together? - As both a writer and an editor, I found this post helpful.
Everything that happens today has been filtered through the loving hand of a loving God. - Michael Kelley

Women are better served when they can admit, and when the men who love and shepherd them acknowledge, how difficult these much loved relationships and places are — and because of that, how hard God’s commands toward these relationships can be for us to obey ... It’s only in the gospel that we can face the hard places of our homes and relationships. - Kim Ransleben
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

contentment (1) at a time like this

A good friend of mine agreed to give talks on a woman’s conference. The topic? Contentment. A few weeks before the conference, she found out she might have breast cancer. She gave the talks anyway.

If you can’t talk about contentment at a time like this, when can you?

Five years ago, my son got sick. The doctor thought it was whooping cough. But instead of getting better, he started getting worse. He was home from school for weeks at a time, and then for months. He was finally diagnosed with chronic daily headaches and migraines complicated by chronic fatigue syndrome. He has learned to manage his condition, but he still suffers daily. His illness prompted me to add the topic of contentment to the teaching schedule for our women’s group.

If you can’t talk about contentment at a time like this, when can you?

Just over a year ago, my husband began to experience strange symptoms. He grew weaker and weaker. Medical tests came up blank. He started vomiting, became unable to keep any food down, and was hospitalised. We found out he had a rare small bowel cancer that couldn’t be picked up in the usual scans. Two months after major surgery and at the beginning of six months of chemotherapy, I was due to give a talk on contentment. I could have cancelled, but something told me there would never be a better time. ...

Read the rest at The Gospel Coalition Australia.

Monday, April 20, 2015

what I'm reading: suffering as vocation

"Suffering is a vocation, a calling from God."

Eight words on the first page of RC Sproul's Surprised by suffering, and I'm stopped in my tracks. I've never heard anyone say that before. I think it's a knowledge Christians lost somewhere along the way. Yet the awareness has been nudging at me for years, and it's good to hear someone say it.

Suffering. It's the calling no one wants. The gift no one asks for. "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29). The word "granted" literally means "gifted". But who would want a gift like that?

You know what I thought my life would be like? What I saw as my vocation? How I thought I'd use my gifts? Marriage. Children. An active ministry to women.

Tick to the first two. But the last one has been put on hold more times then I can count. The year my youngest child went back to school, when many women edge their way back into work and ministry outside the home, my oldest son became chronically ill. I spent four years caring for him and, last year, for my husband who has cancer.

Do I resent this? Well, yes, sometimes, when I'm tempted to compare myself with others. But truly, no. My love for my husband and son has deepened. And like many who have suffered, I wouldn't swap what I have learned about God's love for anything. What I used to know in theory, I now know from experience: there really is nothing he will not give us grace to face.

But of course part of me asks: what happened to the life I planned?

Here's what happened: God had better plans for us. Harder and better ones. We run this race in the sight of others. And if we have to make Jesus known through our pain and our tears, then so be it. Because I would rather have this life with him than my carefully planned life without him.

Right now, we're called to the vocation of suffering. It's a high calling, and a hard one. It will drive you away from God, or drive you deeper into his love: there are only two ways about it. If we choose to turn to him, even when it hurts, he will never let us down or let us go.

I was going to tell you more about the book Surprised by Suffering, but my thoughts got stuck on the first page. I'll save the rest for another day. For the moment, this knowledge is enough:

"Suffering is a vocation, a calling from God."

online meanderings

Quiet the fear, do the work - Why sharing our faith is more about courage and hard work than gifts.

Help me face today - Helpful words from Trillia Newbell about fear.

Wrestling with an angel - "My son turns twenty-two tomorrow, and his mom and I will grieve—deeply, silently, secretly, and personally ..."

Sometimes flight is the best fight - Some great insights about how will, emotions and reason fit together as we fight sin.

Why I lost faith in the pro-choice movement and A Christian woman who's had two abortions - Two interesting, honest posts on abortion.

Dear mama of littlies - An encouraging posts for mums with babies and toddlers.
Whatever our individual weaknesses are, they are given to us by God so that we can rest in his grace and rely on his strength. - Christina Fox

We need the example of women teachers. When a woman sees someone who looks like her and sounds like her teaching the Bible with passion and intelligence, she begins to recognize that she, too, can love God with her mind- perhaps beyond what she thought necessary or possible. … We need the perspective of women teachers. A woman teacher will naturally gravitate toward application and examples that are accessible and recognizable to other women….We need the authority of women teachers. A woman can tell other women to stop making idols of their children or spouses in a way a man can’t. A woman can address other women on vanity, pride, submission, and contentment in a way a man can’t - Jen Wilkin, "Women of the word"
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

online meanderings

Brought up in a legalistic church and freed by grace, Wendy Alsup writes about how she is learning to appreciate Proverbs and the law again.

When God's gifts don't come wrapped in pretty bows - The unwelcome gift of suffering.

The dead end of sexual sin - An interesting story with great hints about how to fight sin.

How to love your depressed friend - Truths that help, truths that don't.

Do what you do: just add one or two - A great principle for training.

Have you been touched by the grief of miscarriage? - Here is a book and interview that might be helpful.
Afflictions are often the black folds in which God doth set the jewels of His children’s graces, to make them shine the better. - CH Spurgeon

There comes a moment in the path of suffering when you move from efforts to jettison the weight from your shoulders toward adjusting the weight so you can carry it for the long haul. ... Such weight is impossible to bear if you don't believe in the joy set before us, the destination in eternity that will not disappoint. Wendy Alsup
To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter)

Monday, April 13, 2015

an invitation to Entrust Women

Ten year ago, I started dreaming about a conference for Christian women with Melbourne speakers. This May will be the fruition of that dream, with a new one-day conference, Entrust Women. I'd love to see you there!
It will be a great opportunity to meet women from all over Melbourne and Victoria, and to be taught and encouraged from God's word.

I'll speak on God's unlimited love in suffering from Romans 8. Fiona McLean, women's worker at St Judes' Carlton, will speak on God's unlimited love in salvation from Romans 5. And there'll be four seminars to choose from.

Read more and register at Entrust Women.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

online meanderings

Are you finding it hard to read the Bible? - Here are 3 good ways to mix it up a bit.

3 reasons women need good theology - It's a pity we ever doubt it.

Alzheimer's, the brain, and the soul - A fascinating interview with a doctor.

Those who suffer know him better - "If suffering disproves your Christianity, you’ve missed Christianity."

Never sorry enough - When you feel like someone is just not sorry enough.

Mom Enough - This free digital book from Desiring God should be worth reading, given the quality of the writers.
It is better to walk in the dark with God than to walk alone in the light. —The Still Small Voice
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

online meanderings

I will write something soon - in fact, I already have, just waiting for it to appear on other blogs. In the meantime, I'm catching up on months of reading, and finding some gems.

You are dust, not divine - A helpful article about bearing burdens and the Burden Bearer.

When you don't have time to pray - I enjoyed this.

Common grace and common griefs - Helpful for those moments you feel like complaining about the hard stuff of daily life.

My baby's heart stopped beating - A beautiful and thoughtful post.

A letter to young writers/bloggers/speakers - Take time in your twenties and thirties to deeply study God's word. Great advice.

Did Tolkien waste his life? - This is good reading.
When valuable things are taken away from you, you run to what no one or nothing can take away. - Paul David Tripp

I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies, that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us, will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight. — Arthur Christopher Bacon
To see more links and quotes, click here (Facebook) or here (Twitter).

Saturday, March 28, 2015

online meanderings

Bible reading is an art - "The point of learning the little bits of science ... is to be ready to dance when the music begins to play."

Envious? - Here is strong medicine for the soul.

Mums need theology too - And so do the rest of us. 4 brilliant examples of how theology impacts life.

You never marry the right person - An excerpt from Tim Keller's excellent book.

When adoption goes bad - Counting the cost.

What is your exit plan? - How parents create their children's digital history.
O how many pangs you will spare yourselves if you don’t make any beginning in evil. There is evil enough in your own heart for Christ to deal with. You don’t need to burden him with more. - John Piper.

Sorrows come to stretch out spaces in the heart for joy. - Streams in the Desert