In Ripped Jeans on Bended Knees

Sooner or later, my jeans all end up with holes in the knees.

This might be partially because I buy the cheaper brands or jeans from the op shop, where they’ve already been worn in a bit.

But it’s largely because I just spend a lot of time on my knees. I was thinking about this recently…

On any given day, I will be on my knees picking up toys, sweeping the kitchen floor, strapping the toddler into his high chair, bathing the kids, retrieving food from under the table, hugging the kids, having a “look at Mummy’s eyes” talk with a little one, reading an impromptu story, playing with toys and putting things away under the beds.

The posture of kneeling is one that evokes ideas of service, humility and prayer.

I’ve been thinking through how these three ideas relate to each other, especially as 2018 approaches and I think about which “word for the year” I would like to focus on. (This year my word has been “Discipline”.)

Humility is something that keeps coming to mind as an area I need and want to grow in.

And while I sure do spend a lot of time on my knees, serving those in my family, how much of this is done with a truly humble spirit, versus a spirit of pride or resentment?

So I’ve had these thoughts of humility and service and kneeling swirling around my head, trying to figure out how they are connected, and what I should focus on in my plans for next year.

Naturally, I come to this passage in Philippians 2:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

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

Who, being in very nature 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 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!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Here is what we learn about humility from this passage:

  • Humility is a mindset.
  • Humility means we should value others above ourselves and look to their interests.
  • Jesus was equal with God, but he still “humbled himself” and “made himself nothing”. Humility means not clinging onto our rights or our position – it means not thinking that something is “below” us.
  • Jesus was obedient to God, even to death on a cross. We should be obedient to God’s plan, even if we don’t like it.
  • The ultimate purpose of humility is God’s glory.

And I love how we also see kneeling in this passage – that Jesus humbled himself, and then God lifted him up and one day every knee will bow before him.

Why? Because he is the King and he deserves all our worship and service!

It’s a beautiful reminder to me, in all my daily kneeling and serving, that everything I do should be done as worship to the Lord Jesus. This is true humility – to see our rightful position before God and to accept it with thanks.

 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

 

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P.S. Credit to my friend Jo for the title 😉

 

 

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Pockets of Beauty

Something that has often saved my sanity is the concept of “seasons”. When I understand the whole of my life as being made up of different seasons, it frees me from the pressure to have everything perfect, all the time. It frees me from desires I have that conflict with each other.

Often these will be all good desires, but they can’t all work at the same time. So I hold onto some things and I let others go, because it won’t work for me in this season.

One way I apply this is acknowledging that in this season, it doesn’t work for me to have the whole house clean at the same time.

So I try to stay on top of the basics and I focus on different areas as I can. One day the bathroom might be looking (and smelling!) great, but the kids’ bedrooms are a mess. Another day, the kitchen might be clean and tidy, but the bathroom has clothes and dirty hand prints every where.

My house might not have the decorative finesse of an instagram feed, but there are corners of the house where I have used my creativity.

I like to think of these as “pockets of beauty” – little spaces that just look nice and bring a smile to my face as I pass them, even when there is mess all around.

Since I spend quite a bit of time in the home at this stage, I find that having beauty in my surroundings helps motivate me in my work.

Of course, with little kids and toddlers around, it’s always a challenge to find the right balance between “functional” and “beautiful”. But generally speaking, I find it works best to keep “functional” stuff down low, and “beautiful” stuff up high. 😉

 

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When I bought this from the shop, it was silver letters on a plain white canvas background. I coloured in the canvas with fabric markers to give it a bit more contrast.

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This is a nice little shelf just outside the hallway to our bedroom. I keep my CDs here, my wedding bouquet (it’s made from foam roses) and my Bible and prayer journal.

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This is the window ledge in the bathroom – I recently cleared away all the bottles, toothbrushes and products to make room for this little display. Fun fact, this twine-wrapped vase was the first ever MOPS craft I made!

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Probably my most frequently changing display area, this is the top of my microwave. At the moment, it has a jar of olives from our back yard, a lovely ceramic Christmas tree, some candles and a fake flower display (another MOPS craft!).

Singing Together

One of my favourite parts of church is the corporate worship. (That’s a fancy church word for when we sing to God as a group.)

I love hearing all the different voices come together. I love hearing the little kids who are learning to read try to sing along. I love my view from the back of the church – I can see who are the “boppers”, the “swayers”, the “finger tappers” and the “statues” (we’re Presbyterian – we have a lot of “statues” 😉 ).

But most of all, I love the way singing together is a collective expression of our faith and trust in God.

This came to mind at church yesterday when we sang these words, from “Blessed Be Your Name”:

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I’ll
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name, oh
As I sang, I looked around the church, at the Church – the body of Christ.
I thought about all the trials I know people are going through. I thought about the struggles and the pain. And I thought about all the abundance and joy others are experiencing.
And I thought – how amazing is it to join with these people and reaffirm to each other, as our voices join together, that we all just want to praise God’s name and bring him glory. Through all of our different lives, we come together to praise God and trust in him together.
It’s a taste of what heaven will be like – when all God’s people (I mean ALLLLLL God’s people – from past, present and future!) will be joined together for the sole purpose of worshipping the Lord.
Wow! I can hardly wait!
Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:18-19
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Welcome to the Dust Museum!

One morning recently, my daughter came out of her room and noticed the brilliant warm sunshine streaming in through the kitchen window.

As she walked past, her eyes caught the little dust particles – stirred by the morning movement – floating through the sunlight and almost dancing in the air.

With the pure joy and candour of a five-year-old, she twirled around with her arms out and said, “Welcome to the dust museum!”

I stifled my laughter around the corner.

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Seriously considering getting this cross-stitched to hang up in my house…

It was a really funny and beautiful moment, seeing her perspective on things. That we have enough dust to constitute a museum. That dust is something worth being displayed. That you can enjoy beauty wherever you find it, even when it appears in unconventional ways.

But it also made me think bigger picture – that really, we are all living in a dust museum! That is, all these things we gather around ourselves that gather dust on themselves will one day pass away. Naked we came into the world, and naked we will leave it. We can’t take our things with us.

I think that’s a helpful reminder.

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And then there’s our earthly bodies, themselves little “dust museums” – from dust we came, and to dust we will return. As these bodies age and break down and get tired, it’s a reminder that we are returning to dust.

And a reminder not to spend too much time “dusting” ourselves off, because death is the fate that awaits everyone. What a shame it would be to spend your whole life toning and honing and working on a body that is just going to go in the ground and turn back into dust one day.

Let’s not neglect to focus on the eternal things – our relationship with God. Where will you go when you die? Where will you be when you leave behind the dust of this world – when your earthly body and all the things you gathered around you are broken and shattered in the ground?

The amazing hope of Jesus is that all who trust in him will be raised from the dead to live with him forever one day. And that promise is solid – it won’t turn back to dust.

 

Welcome to the dust museum.

We hope you enjoy your visit!

Chocolate for Breakfast, and other ways I lost 15kgs this year

This topic is pretty different to what I usually blog about, but a lot of people have been asking me in real life how I have lost so much weight recently and this blog is my little “space” on the internet, so I thought I would make a post laying out what has worked for me.

People are all different, and what worked for me may not suit your life. So take what you need and leave the rest. If this is of no interest to you, then just click on by – I’ll be back to normal postings soon 🙂

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April 2017; July 2017; November 2017

  1. Waiting Until I was Ready to Stop Breastfeeding
    I learned this the hard way last time I lost weight, but my body is incapable of breastfeeding and losing weight at the same time.
    In 2015, I started actively trying to lose weight when my second child was 8 months old, but this sadly meant we ended up weaning at 10 months, due to my milk supply dropping and him getting frustrated with the slower flow.
    This time around, we had a lot of problems feeding early on, some of which were my son’s weight gains dropping off and my milk supply falling. After struggling through those issues, I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding early just so I could get my body back into shape. So I made peace with the fact that my body will look a certain way during certain seasons of life (this article really helped me there: http://jessconnell.com/13-reasons-dont-mind-chunky-happy-mama-breastfeeding/) and I waited until I was okay with weaning.
    For us, this meant I started my weight loss journey when he was around 12/13 months and only having one breastfeed a day. He ended up continuing on until 15 months, which I am very happy with. 🙂
  2. Fitting Exercise into my Day
    I’m not super consistent with this, but one of my overall lifestyle changes has been learning to fit exercise into my day however possible. I now see exercise as a fun and necessary part of life, not something to be avoided.
    I wrote in more detail about that here: http://mops.org.au/archives/7750
    One of my goals for next year might be something around creating a more intentional and challenging exercise routine, but we’ll see 😉
  3. About That Chocolate…
    Okay, so when I said I have chocolate for breakfast, what I meant was that sometimes I eat a chocolate protein bar for breakfast. And when I say chocolate protein bar, I am referring to the low carb variety. 🙂
    But, in all seriousness, changing my diet has been the biggest thing I have done to lose the weight.
    I now follow a low carb way of eating, which basically means I eat lots of protein, healthy fats and a ton of veggies, with the occasional fruit or lower carb chocolate thrown in there.
    Honestly, it has not been that hard. In the beginning, I just made small changes rather than cutting out carbs altogether. But now, I find that I have no real desire for things like bread, pasta or rice. And I have eaten the odd sweet thing, only to find that the sugar now feels like it will burn my tongue off and I can’t really appreciate the flavour!
    I think the best thing about this way of eating has been not feeling hungry all the time. I haven’t needed to count calories and I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.
    If you’d like more information on making this change yourself, you can read the comments on this post of mine from a couple of years ago – a lady there in the comments left a lot of links and information about the low carb way of eating.
    And when I was starting out, I printed off this page and stuck it inside my kitchen cupboard, as a quick visual reference guide for what to eat.
    For more practical advice and general science-y stuff about low carb, check out dietdoctor.com

I hope that helps or satisfies your curiosity 🙂

 

Here are some recent pics of what I might eat in an average day…

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In the Beginning There Was Grace (Part 2)

Continuing on from Part 1, today I’m adding onto the list of all the ways God demonstrated His grace and mercy throughout the book of Genesis.

In Part 1, I looked at the ways God freely gave his unmerited favour and compassion through the creation of the world and the fall of man into sin, in chapters 1-3 of Genesis.

In Part 2, I will look at how He continues this pattern of grace and mercy to a wholly undeserving people, even as sin spreads through the world, in chapters 4-9 of Genesis.

 


  • Eve conceives and has a baby. Although her sin against God deserves a punishment of death (which will eventually come), God, in His grace, gives her the gift of life. Genesis 4:1-2
  • Cain is angry that God does not accept his offering, and yet God still reaches out and gives him the option to do the right thing. He warns Cain of the dangerous sin trap awaiting him. Genesis 4:7
  • After Cain worries about being killed by whoever finds him as a “restless wanderer”, God gives him divine protection, by marking him and cursing anyone who would kill Cain. Cain does not deserve this protection, but God gives it anyway to reveal his own merciful character. Genesis 4:15
  • Adam and Eve have another son, named Seth – Eve recognises this as the gracious gift of God, since she lost her son Abel. Genesis 4:25
  • When sin had spread through the people on earth so much that “every inclination of the thoughts of [their hearts were] only evil all the time”, God wanted to completely wipe out humanity. But in His great mercy, he decided to spare Noah and His family. The Bible says that Noah found favour in God’s eyes. That he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time and he walked with God,” but this does not mean that Noah was sinless. We learn later on that wiping out most of humanity didn’t deal with the problem of sin in every human’s heart (Genesis 8:21). The grace of God is revealed here in His decision to not completely wipe out humanity, but to carry on His original plan to fill the earth through Noah and His family, despite the great pain and cost to Himself that would come later (that is, the pain caused by all of humanity’s sin and the pain of losing His only son). Genesis 6:6-8
  • God makes a covenant with Noah – he reaches out to save Noah and family, when this truly would have been impossible on their own. He tells Noah exactly what to do to be saved from the flood. Genesis 6:18
  • God remembers Noah and acts to end the flood. Think about it – what would have happened if God had not remembered Noah? If he had left him there on the ark, in a world of water? The stopping of the rain and receding of the flood waters is another act of God’s grace and mercy to Noah. Genesis 8:1
  • After the flood, God promises never again to curse the ground or destroy all living creatures because of mankind. This reveals God’s future grace – he knows that more sin is still there in the hearts of every person (“… even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood…”), but he promises to show grace. Genesis 8:21-22

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The Cure for Humiliation

How do you handle it when someone corrects you? How do you feel, knowing that they might think less of you?

Humiliation can sting, especially when it is caused by someone whose opinion we really value and respect.

I sometimes feel this way when my husband corrects some sin he sees in me (or even if he raises some sin he thinks he sees, but is ultimately false). There is the pain that comes from “I want you to like me” and “I don’t want you to see those ugly parts”.

The “sting” is how it feels when my pride is wounded. When I think of myself a certain way or I want to portray myself a certain way, and then I am lowered from that position by someone’s words or actions.

Humiliation is “the abasement of pride, which creates mortification or leads to a state of being humbled or reduced to lowliness or submission.” (Wikipedia)

One of the joys of marriage has been learning to embrace the kind of vulnerability that comes with being deeply known and seen – the good parts and the bad. The joy comes from knowing that my husband sees it all, and loves me anyway.

But I know that he can never see right down to the depths of my heart, like God can. And so there is always still that sting when he uncovers something I really didn’t want him to see.

Before God, there can be no humiliation. There can be no “lowering” of myself before him, because He already sees it all, and when I am in Christ, He already paid for it all!

Before God, my position is already as low as it can ever go. He can never learn or uncover something about me that will make Him think less of me.


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I recently watched a segment of a sermon by David Platt (on Psalm 67) that really impacted me, about whether the point of Christianity is “God loves me” or something else…. Let me quote some of it for you:

If “God loves me” is the essence of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity? God loves… me. Therefore, Christianity is about me.

When I come to church, it’s about me. It’s about the music that fits my preferences. It’s about my life, and my plans, and my dreams, and my family. It’s about my portfolio, and my comfort-ability. What I think is best for my life.

But what I want to say to you, based on the authority of God’s word, is that “God loves me” is not the essence of Christianity.

Biblical Christianity does not say “God loves me”, put a period on it and go home. Biblical Christianity says that God loves me so that His grace, His way, His Salvation, His power, His glory might be made known in all nations. Now who’s the object of Christianity? God is.

Everything centres around him. Christianity is not ultimately about us, it’s about Him, and Him being made known in all the nations.

This is so helpful for me to remember, that the point of Christianity – the whole reason God saves me or anyone – is to bring glory and honour to His name.

The purpose is not to lift me up or honour me or make me look great.

It’s to bring glory to God’s name.

And this is the cure for humiliation.

To remember our place before God. To lift up his name, not our own. And to find our joy in seeing him glorified.

When I feel the sting of humiliation – the pain of my wounded pride – I don’t need to worry about defending myself or trying to lift myself up again. The only thing that matters is that God is lifted up.

 

Not to us, Lord, not to us
    but to your name be the glory,
    because of your love and faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1

To Love and Be Loved.

“Mummy just needs to lie down for a bit,” I said, and like seagulls to an airborne chip, they were there with me on the lounge in an instant.

My toddler climbed up and flopped his body down across my chest. It’s his version of a hug. He lay his head down on my arm and turned his face towards me.

My “big boy” (the middle child) leant across the end of the lounge, driving his duplo tractor up and down my legs.

My daughter stood to the side, stroking my head softly.

She stepped back and surveyed the scene.

With a sigh, she said, “Aw, everybody loves you, Mummy. We all want to be with you.”

It’s a phrase she’s heard my husband say many times, often in moments like this, when the love can feel a little overwhelming.

Sometimes I think I need some space, but I find what I really needed was time.

Time to slow down. To enjoy the cuddles and the attention of these little, going-on-big bodies. To love and be loved.

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Afternoon bubble fun!

P.S. And sometimes I really do need some space.

In the Beginning There Was Grace (Part 1)

Some people talk about God as though he is two different “characters” in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. For example, “the vengeful and harsh God of the Old Testament” versus “the loving and forgiving God of the New Testament.”

But the Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

As I’ve been reading and studying through the book of Genesis recently, one thing that consistently strikes me is God’s incredible grace and mercy!

So I’ve decided to create a list here of all the examples of God’s grace and mercy I’ve encountered in Genesis (so far). I hope this list will be an encouragement to you as you get to (or start to) know God’s character more.

Here are the definitions of each that I use, as I know these words can have different  connotations.

Grace: unmerited/undeserved favour

Mercy: divine favour or compassion

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Bible Study Barbie starter kit 😛


  • God makes man and woman in His image and likeness. Being made in God’s image is an amazing blessing and honour, and there is nothing they (or we) did to deserve or earn that – they didn’t even exist yet when God made that decision! Genesis 1:26-27
  • God blesses the man and woman and gives them a purpose – have babies, fill the earth and rule over it. Giving Adam and Eve a specific purpose and direction in life was a gift to them. They didn’t have to wonder about their reason for being – God told them clearly. Genesis 1:28
  • God provides food for the people He made – it literally grows on trees, they don’t have to do anything! Genesis 1:29
  • This food is “pleasing to the eye” and nutritious. Genesis 2:9
  • God gives Adam a rule about one tree he may not eat from – this is for Adam’s protection (the alternative would be not telling Adam that eating from this tree would cause him to die – giving him no warning at all.) Genesis 2:17
  • God sees that it is not good for the man to be alone, so he makes a helper who is suitable for him. This is not something Adam earned or deserved because he was such a great guy – this was purely God’s gracious gift to Adam, in meeting a need that God saw he had. Genesis 2:18
  • When God goes to take one of Adam’s ribs, with which he forms Eve, he first causes Adam to “fall into a deep sleep” – this is an act of mercy to spare Adam of the pain it would have caused. Genesis 2:21
  • When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, although death would indeed be the consequence, God showed them grace and mercy in allowing them not to die immediately, but to continue on in their mission to “be fruitful and multiply”. Genesis 3:6
  • Even though Adam and Eve have just sinned against God for the first time – rebelling against his good authority and rule – He pursues them; He calls to them. He is the offended party, and yet God is the one to reach out and seek the offenders. Such love and grace! Genesis 3:9
  • Even as God is dishing out the consequences to all the guilty parties, there is still amazing grace given to them. The woman will have pain in childbearing, but she will still go on to bear children! (Genesis 3:16) The man will have endure painful toil in order to eat, but he will still yield food! (Genesis 3:17-19)
  • God makes garments from animal skins for Adam and Eve, more permanent and warm than the leaves they had quickly gathered to cover themselves. Genesis 3:21

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This is part 1 in a series I hope to continue soon, with all the examples of God’s grace and mercy throughout the book of Genesis.
It’s my hope that this inspires you to open your Bible and get to know and love God more each day.

Friends, He is so good!

 

What’s the harm of taking Bible verses out of context?

There is a problem in the church today that has been weighing very heavily on my heart lately. The problem is a widespread lack of Biblical literacy.

One of the ways this manifests is through the misuse of Bible verses in art/ home decor/online memes etc.

You only need to walk into a Christian book shop (or look in their online store) to see examples of this.

Some “out of context verses” are blatantly obvious, like Psalm 46:5 on this shirt (and if you search “God is within her shirt”, you will find many more!):

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In this passage, the “her” that God is within refers to the Holy City, not a woman. So it is horribly inaccurate (bordering on blasphemous) to slap this verse on a shirt and claim that it applies to the person wearing it.

But other verses that are commonly taken out of context are less obviously wrong, like Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This is another verse commonly found all over coffee mugs, posters, colouring sheets, t-shirts, etc.

It is a promise claimed by many present-day Christians as applying to themselves.

But if we zoom out a little, we can see that the context of Jeremiah 29 is a letter to the Exiles (I would encourage you to go read the whole chapter – it’s great!):

1 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

10 This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

So, we can see from reading the context that the “plans” God has in verse 11 are plans specifically for the exiled Jews, to bring them back to the land of Israel to be in relationship with Him again.

And while we understand from the New Testament that those who trust in Jesus are part of the true Israel, not everything that was written to the physical Israel can be directly applied to the spiritual Israel.

But why does this verse appear over all manner of floral and sparkly items in the Christian book shop? Isn’t it because we find comfort in the idea that God has a plan for us? That He has a good plan for us?

And even if it’s not entirely accurate to apply this verse to present day Christians, isn’t this idea basically true – that God has a plan for us, to prosper and not harm us? And if it’s basically true and it encourages us in our faith, then why not memorize it and apply it to ourselves? What’s the harm?

That’s the big question I want to tackle in this blog post…

What is the harm in taking Bible verses out of context, in ways that are more-or-less true, for the benefit of our personal faith (or even to encourage a friend)?

I think this kind of (benevolent) misuse of Bible verses is indeed harmful, and there are four reasons why.

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Hilarious example of a Bible verse out of context that I found in a local shop. Anyone want this canvas on their living room wall?

 

1. It maligns the word of God, by showing that we don’t take it seriously.

The Bible is not another self-help book that we are free to read and interpret as we wish. It is God’s authoritative word to all people. But when we use Bible verses out of context – whether by ignorance or carelessness – we are sending the message to other people that we don’t really believe that.

When we take a verse of Scripture, put it up somewhere on display because of the meaning we get from it, and then put that little verse reference on the end, we are giving it the stamp of God’s authority. Putting that Bible reference on the end is saying, “this statement comes from God” – that’s why we do it, because these Scripture quotes have the authority of God behind them. Otherwise, we could easily just write inspirational quotes for ourselves and stick those around our house.

So if we are using Bible verses because they come with the authority of God, then it is even more important that we don’t misuse or misrepresent what He actually meant.

 

 

2. We make the Bible about us, and what we can get out of it.

It’s not about us, it’s about God.

True, we learn things about ourselves (or have them revealed to us) as we read the Bible. But it is primarily a book about God. And when we pull verses out of context, it is usually because we feel it “speaks to us” or has a “special meaning” for our personal circumstance.

Here’s the truth – not everything in the Bible is about us!

Are there things we can learn from the whole Bible? Sure! Are there things that apply to us? Yes!

But the Bible was written to us, not about us.

The Bible is all about God and His plan through Jesus to save His people.

If we pull out verses for our personal encouragement (again, that are not blatantly false or evil), we are learning to approach the Bible to see what we can get out of it, or what it says about us. This is not the main reason we should read the Bible.

If you read the Bible mainly to see what it says to you, then what happens when you get to a time where reading the Bible just feels “dry”? When you’re trying to plough through the laws of Leviticus, and finding it really hard because there’s not a lot about you in there? (And even less that you can pull out and write on a mug…)

Well, you might be tempted to stop reading. You might feel like God is distant. You might give up on that book and go back to something more… relevant.

Friends, a me-centred faith is a weak faith. Don’t fall into the trap of letting your Bible reading and application be focused on yourself.

 

 

3. It is not true or accurate.

You can find many verses in the Bible that you can pull out to make you feel better (and also many that will terrify you). You could easily use it like this – as a “spiritual” reference book that you flick through and pull out the bits you need.

You could use it like that, but it wouldn’t be true or accurate.

Going back to my example above, I can pull out Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future…” – and say that it is about me. That God would never harm me and that he has plans to prosper me.

I could “claim” all that for myself. But it isn’t true. It isn’t what that passage is saying or why it is there. By claiming the nice-sounding falsehood for myself, I actually miss out on the more glorious truth in Jeremiah 29.

That an unfaithful, rebellious people are undeservedly pursued and loved by their faithful God. That God had not forgotten them and that he heard their cries.

That God is sovereign over everything.

And ultimately, Jeremiah 29 points us to Jesus – the one perfect Saviour and Rescuer of a stubborn, rebellious people.

All that is waaaayyy more amazing than just “God has a plan for me”.

Don’t settle for sweet-sounding – but false – platitudes that you pluck from your Bible. Because the truth of the Bible is far more wonderful.

 

 

4. It leads to more dangerous Scripture-twisting.

On the face of it, pulling a passage out of context to say that God has good plans for us doesn’t seem as bad as pulling a passage out of context to say that Jesus is not God (like my new JW friends did).

But I actually think the former leads to the latter.

If we begin to allow ourselves to treat the Bible as a book that is about us and which we can interpret as we wish, it acclimatises us to the practice of picking out verses that support our argument (eisegesis), rather than examining the text to understand it’s real meaning (exegesis).

It’s far better to commit ourselves to good Bible study habits from the beginning, rather than practice habits that will not yield good fruit in the long run.

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It’s a slippery slope… hahaha.

 

Friends, I don’t make these points to hold myself up as someone who studies and uses the Bible perfectly. Misuse of Bible verses is something I’ve been convicted of myself, and I wanted to share my thinking on this for the benefit of all you sisters in Christ. So please – if you see me taking a verse/passage out of context, call me out on it!

And I also feel the need to add… I love beauty. I love art. I love pretty mugs and colouring-in and t-shirts with Bible verses on them. That’s not what I have a problem with. And if you walk into my house, you will see many of these things. The issue is in which verses are being used, how they are being represented and if that use and representation is true and accurate.

Let’s do better together, as we study and apply God’s good word to us.