Questions and Ideas

I’m just wrapping up a lovely three nights away with some friends at a beach house.

It has been such a wonderful time with laughter, silliness and fellowship. But the main reason we take this time away at the start of each year is to reflect on the year that has passed, take the time to relax, and recharge for the year ahead as we make plans and goals.

 

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I’ll share more about my personal goals for the year soon. But one thing I’ve been looking at is my plan for the blog this year.

So I wanted to take the chance to ask my readers for suggestions and input.

You can leave a comment here (or on Facebook) or email me at Seriouslyserving@hotmail.com

– Is there something you’d like to know about me more?

– Is there a topic you’d like to see me write more about?

– Is there a question you have based on something you read?

Let me know 🙂

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Never Alone

We sung this song at church today and I just love it. There’s something so great about singing gospel truth out loud!

 

We’re not alone, for Christ is here

Immanuel our God come near

We’re not alone, for to our world

Jesus has come, eternal Word.

And as he speaks, our souls laid bare

Naked, ashamed, sin is made clear

And yet he clothes us in his love

Never alone, Christ is with us, is with us.

 

The longest walk, earth’s darkest day

The pressing crowd, his mounting pain.

A heavy load of grief and shame

Breathless that we should breathe again.

“Father forgive them,” comes his cry

Silence from God blackens the sky.

A creeping dread in every heart

Lost in the world now God departs, God departs.

 

The dawn will come, the sun will rise

Out of the grave we’ll see hope’s light.

Tomb opened wide, stone rolled away

Morning has come, a brand new day.

“He isn’t here,” the angel said.

“He is alive no longer dead.”

Our hearts are lifted, souls raised high

Christ is with us, Christ is our life, he’s our life.

 

Never alone, is now our cry

In joy, in grief, in lonely sin.

Never alone, for Christ is ours

He lives in us, we live in him.

And ’til we reach that final day

When fears are gone, cast far away

We’ll live secure, trust in his love,

Never alone, Christ is with us, he’s with us.

 

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From Emu Music

Still Smiling

It was the first night of our honeymoon. We arrived at our accommodation too late to order food in-house, so we ventured out into the night in search of a restaurant.

We didn’t have to look far – we found the one pub in the one-pub town and let ourselves into the cosy room. There were a few locals standing down one end of the bar, near the fireplace, and one woman serving them drinks.

They all stopped laughing and looked at us when we walked in. It felt like we’d walked into someone’s private dinner party by mistake.

They looked us over.

“Let me guess,” said one of the older men, “you’re staying at Eagle View?”

“Yep,” said my husband, “We’re on our honeymoon.”

He squeezed my hand and I beamed back at him.

“Remember what that looks like,” one of the swaying, middle-aged men said to my husband, gesturing at my smiling face. “You’ll never see it again.”

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Isn’t it amazing, all the things a smile communicates when sent in the direction of our husbands?

I love you.

I appreciate you.

I’m glad you’re here.

I’m glad I’m here.

I’m excited to see you.

Welcome back!

I’m thinking about you.

I’m happy when I’m around you.

I enjoy your company.


 

Those sobering words from the slightly drunk stranger on our honeymoon were easy to brush off as a couple of love-drunk newly-weds. But as time wears on, they take on a greater significance and importance.

Because sometimes it is hard to muster up a smile, when the days are long and real life weighs heavily on us. But all those messages I listed – the messages we can send with a smile? They’re still things I want to say to him.

So, eight years on and I’m still smiling up at him. Sometimes it’s an intentional show of love. Sometimes it’s a spontaneous burst of joy.

But I’m still here and I’m still smiling.

 

A Framework for Biblical Decision-Making

We each face many decisions in life, many are small and some are big. In most of these decisions, the Bible is clear about what we should do.

In some of them however, the right path to take might not be immediately obvious. It could be because we know the right thing to do deep down, but it’s hard, so we “wrestle” with it a bit. Or it could be because the situation is complex, involving a number of different Biblical principles.

I am in the midst of one such decision at the moment, where it is not clear what I should do. Below are some questions I am working through, as a kind of framework for Biblical decision-making. I haven’t gone through all these questions thoroughly yet (I’m taking my time with #6), but these are the kinds of things I’ve been thinking through (and talking through with my husband and friends) as I prepare to make a decision.

The Bible tells us that “[God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3) and that “if any of [us] lacks wisdom, [we] should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to [us]” (James 1:5).

We already have everything we need to live a godly life through the knowledge of God given to us in the Bible. And if we lack wisdom about how to understand and apply that knowledge, we only need to ask Him, and he will supply it!

That gives me great hope, even though I don’t yet have the all the answers about what to do. I trust that as I seek out God’s wisdom and dig deeper into the knowledge of Him, he will provide His wisdom to me.

 


The first two questions are already answered (with help from the children’s catechism) to help set the tone.

What is the purpose of your life? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

How can you glorify God? By loving him and obeying him.

  1. How can you best love God in this situation?
  2. How can you best love the people involved in this situation?
  3. How can your decision promote the gospel of God’s grace to unbelievers?
  4. How can you best love and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ?
  5. Which sins (of either commission or omission) need to be avoided?
  6. Which Bible passages apply here and how?
  7. Is it a decision between right and wrong; between wise and foolish; or between two equally right and wise things?
  8. What might the consequences of either decision be? (This question might not apply to your situation if it’s a question of right or wrong. When it comes to obeying God, it is not for us to worry about the consequences. But in cases where either option would be obedient to Him, then it might be helpful to consider the consequences as you weigh your decision.)
  9. What are my feelings about this situation? How might they be deceiving me?

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A prayer for wisdom:

Dear Lord,

You are so good and so merciful. You have given me everything I need to live a godly life, through your divine power. You richly meet all my needs so that I am lacking nothing.

You can see all things and you know all things. You know the depths of everything that has happened here, even into the hearts of all people involved.

Lord, my desire is to bring you glory. I want nothing more than to lead others to know your name and to praise your name!

Please give me wisdom. Please open up your word to me so that I can grow in knowledge of you. I pray that you would give me to wisdom to see what would bring you the most glory in this situation.

I pray that you would help me to obey you, even when it’s hard. And I pray that you would help me to stand firm in my convictions.

May your name be glorified in all I do,

Amen.

 

A Year to be Thankful For

Another year draws to a close. Another set of milestones passed… 8 years married, our daughter has finished her first year of school.

This year was also really hard for us, in some very strange and unexpected ways.

I always think it’s interesting to compare my vision for the year as I look ahead (when I set goals and make plans) with the reality of the year that was. As much as I love to plan and dream and imagine what the year might look like, there are always things that catch me by surprise. There are always things that can’t be anticipated or planned for.

It really drives home the message of Proverbs 16:9:

In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

And even through all the difficult things that have happened this year, there is so much to be thankful for. So I decided to close out 2017 by making a list of all the things I am thankful to God for:

  • Another year of getting to stay home and look after these precious kids.
  • That my husband has a job which provides for us and means I can stay home with the kids.
  • My wonderful husband – all the ways he loves me, leads me and nurtures me in the Lord (could write a whole post about him, TBH 🙂 ).
  • The way God has grown my love for learning about Him and following Him more deeply this year.
  • Surviving my daughter’s first year of school (and my first year as a school mum!!).
  • My amazing friends who came through in such supportive and encouraging ways this year, through some really hard times.
  • My wonderful church and Bible study family who also supported our family through prayer, encouragement and practical support.
  • God’s mercy and grace to me – there are so many times this year when I have been aware of His mercy, of how he has actively held back worse things that could have happened!
  • God’s patience with me, even as I stumble and fall.
  • God’s provision and help in my first year as a MOPS coordinator, working through me despite all my self-doubt and lack of organisational ability.
  • For all the beauty surrounding me inside and outside of my house, for small pleasures like nice sunny days, rain when it’s needed, a quiet cup of tea before anyone else wakes up and falling into a soft, warm bed tangled up with someone I love each night.

It’s been a strange, beautiful, hard year. Here’s to the next one!

 

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 😉

 

 

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.

welcome to the dust museum cross stitch

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!

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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