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.

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Scattered thoughts…

I’ve almost written a few blog posts recently, but have held off as my thoughts are not quite fully formed yet. (I’ll get there, lol.)

So here is an offering of some bits and pieces that I’ve been thinking about lately.

 

Simple Pleasures

In this season of life I have been enjoying the many simple pleasures throughout my day.

  • Playing with my kids and making them laugh heartily
  • The neighbour’s chicken that keeps getting into our yard.
  • Watching my daughter learn to read.
  • The warm sun that pierces through the cold winter air.
  • Waking up before sunrise and my children and just taking a minute to watch the light peaking over the hills.
  • My baby (toddler?) who has learnt how to cuddle.

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From Milk to Meat

When I had our third baby last year, I knew things would be crazy for a while. Not only was it hard to find time, but I also felt like my brain couldn’t quite cope with the in-depth Bible study I used to do on my own.
So, I made sure I was still listening to God in His word over that year, but it was mostly in the form of Bible verses stuck up around the house or specific passages memorised or a longer section read every once in a while.

I was sustaining myself on the “milk” version of God’s word – enough to keep me fed, but not forever.
Now, I have been enjoying getting back into the more “meaty” study of God’s word. Specifically, the book of Romans at the moment. There is just so much good stuff in there!

Reading Romans Like

I have printed out this bookmark from Women Living Well, which shows you which colours to highlight Bible verses according to their main theme. This has been really helpful for me, because it forces me to concentrate and really think about what the passage is saying.
I’m very much a pen and paper kind of girl – writing things down really helps me to take them in and absorb the concepts. I usually pull out my journal and do some kind of visual representation of what I’ve read.
Sometimes that looks like this:

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And other times it looks more like this:

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So I guess I would just like to offer a word of encouragement to my sisters in Christ – if you have been struggling to get into the Word or to really make time for in-depth study of the Bible, don’t neglect it any longer!

You can “not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Just like you take the time to feed yourself every day, don’t neglect feeding yourself spiritually.


Scared of the Dark

Our older two kids have been starting to say that they are afraid when it’s dark at night or they are scared that baddies are going to get them (they share a room).

I’m sure sometimes it’s just one tool in the toolbox of “ways to avoid bedtime”, but still, I think it’s important to listen to their heart and always use these opportunities to shepherd them towards Jesus.

So we’ve been working on memorising Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?

Once we go over the verse a few times, we work through it’s meaning.

If you’re scared because it’s dark, remember that God is always with you and he will be your light.

What’s a stronghold? Well, it’s kind of like a big, tall tower that no baddies can get into. When you trust in God, he will keep you safe.

What does is mean that the Lord is your salvation? Well, the truly scary and dangerous thing in life is your own sin, because being a sinner means you deserve death. But the wonderful thing is that God sent Jesus to die on the cross and come back to life so that you can be saved from what you deserve. That’s why it’s great that the Lord is your salvation, because it means you don’t have to be afraid of anything!

 

I want our kids to know that no matter what is troubling them in life, God’s word is alive and relevant to them. They can turn to Him and find truth and clarity for whatever their situation.


 

So there you go – I’m over here enjoying the simple pleasures in life, carving up a big slab of Romans and teaching our kids how to apply the Bible to their lives.

What have you been up to?

Turning Around a Bad Start to the Day

This morning arrived with a stuffy nose and a pounding head ache. I’ve been suffering through recovering from a head cold for a few days now, and I’m still not quite sure if I’m over the hump yet.

In another life (one without responsibilities, ha) I would have just stayed in bed.

Sometimes I just have an “off” day, whether due to lack of sleep or getting over a cold. It can be easy to just go with that frame of mind, and let the whole day spiral down into a vortex of gloom.

But I usually find that with a bit of self-awareness and some little changes, I can nip that bad mood in the bud and turn the day around. Here’s what I do:

  1. Light a scented candle. My favourite is Watermelon Lemonade. I don’t have any of these at the moment, but I do have a box of supplies waiting to be made into candles! (Anyone want to join me? I keep procrastinating from this task…)
  2. Put on some uplifting music. Lately I have been really enjoying the album “Mighty” by Beckah Shae. Her music is so upbeat, her lyrics are Bible-based and she has seriously good hair:
  3. Write my thoughts out to God in my prayer journal. Ask for His joy and peace.
  4. Go outside and sit in the sun. This is especially lovely now as it is winter here. The birds are out, the air is crisp and the sun on my back is delightful!
  5. Run around or wrestle with the kids. Their little giggles are infectious!
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  6. Do some colouring in – I like to colour in Bible verse pages and then hang them around the house.
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  7. Have a cup of coffee. I like to have my coffee first thing, before anyone else wakes up, while I read my Bible. Some mornings (like today) I press the snooze button so I don’t have time for my coffee before school drop off. So when I do get to have my coffee, I try to take the time to really savour it. Something about coffee just makes the whole day go better.
  8. Do something productive. Could be making something simple or tidying a long-overlooked area of the house. But I find getting one productive thing done at the start of the day can make me feel good about my acheivement and have a cascade effect on the rest of the day.

These ideas are quite simplistic, but they work for me (most of the time). How to you turn a bad mood around?

The Danger of Discipline

As the middle of the year draws closer, I’ve been reflecting on my goals and my focus for the year. This year I decided to make goals with a focus on one “theme word” – discipline.

And it has turned out to be a highly relevant word for me this year.

When each of my babies have turned one, I’ve found life enters a new stage. A more predictable, rhythmic stage.

The other day I got house work done for about 20 minutes while T crawled around the house, finding things to play with.

That is quite a feat, let me tell you! And it’s quite different to the newborn stage, where you can’t really put them down and every minute is sucked into a vortex of activity.

I mean, a mobile baby brings a different kind of busy. I’m cleaning up more messes, for example.

The other day I sent my husband this picture (of his side of the bed), with the message “This was the cost of doing the dishes today”:

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Mmm, tasty bin tissues – good for the immune system, right?

(I did then clean it up, but I often like to share little things from my day with my husband while he is at work – the good, the bad and the hilarious!)

But as I enter this season of having a baby who is more able to entertain himself for little chunks of time, it is a season that requires greater discipline because there is a temptation to slack off.

And what I am finding as I work to apply discipline across the various areas of my life is that discipline breeds discipline. It is addictive.

I guess you could call it “habit-forming”, which in the early stages requires repetition and consistency.

I’m particularly enjoying the fruits of applying discipline to my eating habits and exercise. The result is that I have more energy, I feel good and I am actually looking forward to exercising.

Some days I have to push myself to make it happen, or pull myself away from bad food choices (that’s the discipline part). But most days, it’s not a hard choice. The more I eat healthy food, the more my body craves it. The more I exercise, the more my body wants to move.

I find this to be the case across the other areas of my life where I am becoming more disciplined as well.

But then the thoughts start to creep in… “Hey, I’m really nailing this!”, “Wow, I’m really good at this discipline thing!” or the more subtle, “My hard work is starting to pay off.”

The problem with these thoughts is that they are rooted in pride.

The more my thoughts turn towards how well I am doing, the more they turn away from how dependent I am on God’s grace.

You might think, “Well, if you’re doing well on your own, why can’t you acknowledge that? Maybe that means you aren’t dependent on God’s grace?”

And that might be true for a while. I might have a good run in being disciplined and making good choices, and seeing results, but ultimately my own strength and personal resolve will fail.

It would be like saying, “Wow, that’s a beautiful rose! It’s doing such a great job of growing and looking lovely!” while ignoring the whole bush, roots, soil and sun that all worked to make the rose beautiful.

My dependence on God is the reality. My personal discipline is the result.

To believe that I can get the result of discipline without the reality that I am dependent on God is to believe a lie.

Ultimately, this is the danger of discipline – that we set up good habits for ourselves and it fools us into thinking that we can achieve anything in our own strength, that we are pretty good people and we don’t really need God.

Colossians 2:20-23 warns about these dangers:

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

 

I am speaking here about self-discipline, of course. But I think this also applies to disciplining our kids.

Of course kids need to be taught obedience and morals.

But we need to be so careful that in teaching them to do what is right and flee from what is wrong, we don’t set them up to pridefully think they are good people.

I was raised in a loving Christian family, and I was taught how to obey God from a very young age. But unfortunately, this also grew a heart of pride in me.

Even when I copped grief from other kids at school and I didn’t quite fit in, I held onto this attitude that at least I was doing the right thing.

And don’t get me wrong – it’s good to love doing what is right!

Psalm 119:97 says:

Oh how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all the day.

But following God’s law won’t save you.

And when I was a child, I never really had a sense that I needed to be saved. I knew the rules. I followed the rules. And I thought that made everything okay.

(I mean, I knew Jesus had saved me – I just didn’t think I really needed it.)

It wasn’t until some events in my late teens that I truly realised how much I needed grace, and that I really couldn’t make it to heaven on my own (I might tell you the long story of that another day!).

This is an ongoing struggle for me. The struggle of falling back into rule-following and a prideful heart.

So even as I pursue greater discipline in my life, I need to be ever-mindful that it is only through God’s grace that I can make lasting changes. And it is only through God’s grace that I am saved.

It’s a change in posture from a standing tall, “you go girl” kind of self-discipline to a kneeling down, “God, please change my heart” kind of self-discipline.

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Our olive harvest the other day.

 

 

 

Should We Think of Motherhood as a Career?

Whenever I meet new people, the question is inevitably asked: “Do you work?”

I usually answer, with a grin, “Yes, I work a lot, I just don’t get paid.”

Now, there’s no hint of resentment there – the Lord provides for our family abundantly through my husband’s income. But I answer this way because I often think of my role as a mother as my career. This is my job, and I think it’s the best job in the world.

But recently I’ve been quietly self-critiquing this concept of motherhood as career. The way we think and talk about things matters, so I’ve been trying to figure out whether thinking about motherhood as a job does more harm or good – to my relationship with the kids, to my motivation levels and to how others perceive motherhood (especially younger women).

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The benefits of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • It helps me to spend my time during the day more wisely and productively. In fact, just recently, I confided in my husband that I felt one of the main reasons I was feeling so overwhelmed was that I was spending too much of my time on social media during the day, which meant that the important things weren’t getting done. In order to change this, I proposed that I implement a “work hours” policy, where I don’t use social media during specific hours of the day, and I asked his advice on what these hours should be (because, let’s face it, mothers often have demands on our time for all of our waking hours – and even some of the sleeping ones). He said 9-5 would be reasonable, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do since then – thinking of myself as being “at work” from 9-5, and not allow myself to slack off from the job.
  • It leads me to be more serious and intentional about motherhood. I make plans and I try to take advantage of the teachable moments with my kids. I realise that I am “it”, and I’m not waiting around for someone else to come and teach them all the stuff they need to successfully get to adulthood. This is the “thing” I do with my time, so I need to do it well. I guess the opposite of this would be if I just saw my kids as people who happen to be in my life now, and each moment passes by accidentally, with much thought or consideration. Or worse, if I just viewed motherhood as something to get through or something that is a hindrance to my “real life”. Thinking of motherhood as my career leaves no doubt in my mind about where my efforts should be directed.
  • It helps me to feel more valuable and appreciated for my contribution. If we can think and speak about motherhood in the language of career, it helps us to feel like we are doing something worthwhile with our time. Sometimes I have referred to my husband as the Chief Executive Officer of our family, and myself as the Chief Operations Officer.

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The drawbacks of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • The flip side of that last point is that this view of motherhood as a “job” or “work” comes from a capitalist system where people are valued based on their economic contribution to society. So there is a pressure on Stay at Home Mums to justify their existence in economic terms, or else risk being labelled a “drain on society” (as this recent OECD study said). When we talk about motherhood as a career, we are playing into this kind of thinking that people are only as important as the money they make (or save) and what they “do” for a living. This thinking is contrary to the Christian perspective, which says that people are valuable because they are image-bearers of God, not because of anything they do.
  • Another problem is that viewing motherhood in terms of a job often leads to a focus on fairness, rather than the service and selflessness that should characterise the Christian woman’s life. Let’s face it – there is so much about motherhood that is unfair. We often don’t get to go to the toilet alone or when we want to. We share our meals, or eat them cold. We have less time to devote to our own interests. And on it goes… Looking at it purely through an investment/return paradigm, we might be tempted to grow bitter about how much we “give up” for our kids, compared to how little we get back (at least in the short term). We can also be tempted to compare our “work day” with our husbands and think about how much longer and demanding our hours are (depending on what he does, of course – my husband has informed me that he too is frequently unable to go to the toilet when he wants to and often has to work through his lunch break!). Constantly thinking about whether something is “fair” or not is a sure fire way to lead to resentment or stinginess. Because even if things are fair, by your approximation, needing to vigilantly watch out for fairness will mean even what you do give is tightly meted out, being careful not to give or do too much, lest you tip the scales into “unfairness”.
  • When I think of my role as mother as my career, it can lead me to measure my success or failure based on things like how much I get done or whether I complete my to-do list. I’ve fallen into this trap before – going from elation when I get lots done to despair and overwhelm when I don’t. But then I realised that much of the work of motherhood is not measurable with pen and paper (or even Excel spreadsheets!). How do you quantify an hour spent in the sunshine, rolling around in the grass with three little munchkins? Even a note added to my list and checked off after the event – “play with kids” – seems hopelessly inadequate at capturing all that was achieved in that hour – the smiles shared, the fleeting embraces, the close examining of the leaves, the time spent watching a beetle, the discussion about why God made the trees. Some of my best “mum days” have been absolute failures according to my to-do list!

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How should we think of motherhood?

As I’ve thought through the points above, it’s become clear to me that I need to stop thinking of and referring to motherhood as my career.

Sure, I should take it seriously and be intentional about it, but I think using the language of jobs and career does more damage here than good.

So how does the Bible view mothers and motherhood?

 

Motherhood is fruitfulness:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” Genesis 1:28

 

Motherhood is hard:

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

 

Motherhood is a position of honour:

Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

 

The happiness of a mother is caught up in the character of her children:

A wise son makes a glad father,
    but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” Proverbs 10:1

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
    he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
    let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:24-25

 

The mother/child relationship is secondary to the Christian’s love for Jesus:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

 

Mothers are gentle and caring:

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7

 

Motherhood is ministry:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

 

Motherhood is a conduit of love:

 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:3-4

 

“Mother” is not my job title.

To call motherhood my career would only diminish what it is that I do.

It goes beyond the 9-5 and it is more than any list of tasks I can achieve.

It’s who I am. It’s why I was put on this earth. It is my calling and my passion and my joy to raise these little ones to know and love Jesus.

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Red – an Easter poem

I wrote this poem in 2008 at our church’s Tenebrae service as I reflected on the Bible readings about what Jesus endured on the cross and what that meant for me. I hope it is a blessing to you as you reflect on these things this Easter.


 

Red was the blood

that flowed

through his veins –

flesh and bone,

God and Spirit.

 

Red was the blood

that dripped from

his head – droplets

of anguish and

anticipated agony.

 

Red was the blood

that splattered ‘cross

his back after

endless lashings.

 

Red was the blood

that trickled down

his face,

past eyes that

saw the world

and loved.

 

Red was the blood

that poured from his side,

punctuating the torment and

darkening the sky.

 

Red was the blood

that spilled from hands and feet

as, with Life’s

last breath,

they pushed and strained

for air.

 

Red was the blood

on the hands

of soldiers –

naïve at first but

beginning to see

the one who hung

dead.

 

Red is the blood

that covers me

from head to toe,

painting beauty and holiness

with strokes of white.

 

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On Fathers

It’s Father’s Day today, and the lead up to this day, with all the advertisements and catalogues in the mail, have had me thinking a bit about fathers.

I have extra space to think today (or less space, depending how you look at it) as my husband is away on business for the weekend.

I expected I would miss him (and I do!) but I also expected that I wouldn’t find it too challenging, since I do most of the child caring stuff anyway. But, surprise, surprise – it’s harder than I thought!

So, when I saw several posts on Facebook today saying “Happy Father’s Day to all the single mums doing double duty” or something, it made me pause.

Now, being the sole parent in the house for 4 days is quite different to being a single parent. For one thing, even though I’m the only one here, I still don’t have the burden of financially providing for our family. And we’ve also enjoyed sending my husband pictures and updates of our days while he’s been away, so while we are physically separated, we are very much still together.

But what has made this weekend so hard is not that I have had to “step up” and somehow fulfil the role of both mother and father. But it is that we feel the lack of the father in the house. That is, it’s hard precisely because I, a woman, cannot fulfil the role of father.

I can discipline the kids, but my words don’t seem to carry the same weight as my husband’s. The kids’ activities have not changed much, but they seem more listless. My daughter keeps asking me, “Mummy, are you sad because Daddy’s not here? Here, I will give you a cuddle.”
Instead of looking forward to that special time alone together at the end of the day, I seem to be literally just collapsing into bed about an hour after I get all the kids to sleep.

How arrogant of me to think that this wouldn’t be too hard!

In our culture, feminism tells us that men and women are interchangeable – that they can and should do exactly the same things. That there is no “mothering” and “fathering”, just “parenting”.

You guys, that is a lie! It’s not how God designed humans. He didn’t make us all the same, he made us “male and female”, to His glory. He made mothers and fathers, not just parents.

The Father’s Day posters at my local shopping centre have really been grating on me over the last month or so – they say “Don’t Forget Dad”. Plastered all over the place.“Don’t Forget Dad.”

It’s very apt for our culture. And I think this is why is grates on me.

Why are we likely to forget Dad? Why do Dad’s go so unnoticed and unappreciated?

Let’s make sure this is not the case in our households. Let’s make sure our dads and our children’s dads know how much they are needed, and how uniquely valuable to the family they are.

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