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?

DSC_0076

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.

 

Advertisements

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

 

DSC_0099

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

 

 

Because He Cares…

I wrote a note on my Facebook page the other day as I reflected on the recent Grenfell Tower Fire. My reflection was that the truly terrifying thing about the whole situation was the apathy from those in charge of the tower when concerns had been raised about the safety of the building in the months leading up to the fire.

The residents of that tower were in the vulnerable position of living in a building that wasn’t safe, and their vulnerability and need was met with a lack of care from those who had the power to solve the problem.

And as I watched the tower go up in flames (along with the rest of the world), I felt so upset for those people trapped in the tower. All those people who died because no one cared enough to really listen to them and make the required changes.

It’s a very deep kind of pain you feel when you reach out with your worries or fears, only to be met with silence or to be fobbed off – especially by those who are meant to care for you.

You might not be living in a dangerous situation at the mercy of some corporate body, but perhaps you’ve felt this way before with a parent or friend… Perhaps you have felt the sting of disappointment when someone you thought would care, didn’t.

This morning as I thought over these things, 1 Peter 5:7 came to mind:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I was really struck by how amazing it is that God actually cares for us and how this should lead us to pray to Him honestly.

Prayer is not some kind of venting ritual, where we get things off our chest and that process makes us feel better.

It’s actually giving our burdens to a real Person, who has real power.

It’s throwing all our worries and fears in front of God, because He cares for us.

That changes everything.

It means we always have someone to turn to with our anxieties and concerns. Someone who will not minimise our feelings or fob us off for something more important.

Of course, God will not always answer in the way we want or expect. But He always hears and He always answers.

When you bring your burdens to God, you will never experience the pain of apathy.

Cast all your anxiety on Him, friends – because He truly does care for you!

DSC_0014

What’s Your Default?

I’m a huge fan of learning from other women, particularly when it comes to practical stuff like child-rearing and home-making. I’m sure most of the good ideas I use daily came from watching and learning!

So I was delighted to read this blog post by Jess Connell recently, called Here’s What I Learned Watching my Friend be ‘Busy at Home’. She talks about several tips she picked up by observing her friend.

Here’s the one that stood out to me:

#7- CHOOSE TO HAVE A DEFAULT POSTURE OF BUSYNESS, NOT IDLENESS

I noticed throughout the week that her default “position” was at the kitchen sink. This may be the most important of all… not that we all stand around in our kitchens all day… but that her position was one that put her in a ready position to field meals, cleaning, and the family calendar. Did you ever play baseball or softball? “Get into position!” meant to hustle to the spot where you would be most advantageously used for the position you were playing. THAT is what I saw in my friend Kelly. She was “in position” for much of the day, doing dishes, preparing treats for her gluten-free son, checking out the calendar to be ready for what was coming, browsing a cookbook for something tasty that night, etc. Her default position was one of busyness, not idleness.

I found it particularly challenging because if I think about it, my default “position” throughout the day is probably sitting at my laptop, reading news or current affairs sites. Sure, I do plenty of other things, but that’s where I bounce back to in between activities. And it’s a default position of idleness, for sure.

Since I read this last week, I’ve been actively trying to change my default to one of busyness. Like the mum mentioned in Jess’s article, the kitchen is probably a good central place for me to default to. It’s where my planner lives, and there is always something I can do there – dishes to wash, food to prepare, floor to sweep. So I’ve been making more of an effort to head back to the kitchen when I seem to have a spare moment, or when I’m not sure what to do next. There, I either just start doing something or check in with my planner to find out what I should do next (I usually mentally divide tasks into things that can be done with “kids awake” or “kids asleep”).

The results are that I’m getting a lot more done! (Surprise!) And I don’t have as much of the restless “I should be doing something, but I don’t know what” feeling.

dsc_03421.jpg

My kitchen doesn’t always look like this, but when it does, I take a picture!

But I’ve been thinking about this concept of our “default”, and I think it applies beyond just busyness/idleness.

Here are some other questions I’ve been thinking through:

  • Is my default demeanour one of cheerfulness and laughter, or sombreness and sighs? (Remember, we’re talking about what our default mindset is, not our constant mindset!) I remember once I sighed and my daughter asked me, “Mummy, why did you say *sigh*?” I hadn’t done so consciously, so it was a good reminder that my children are watching how I carry myself, and that they pick up so much from the unspoken things. Sometimes I remind myself to put the smile back on my face as I finish something more serious, like disciplining a child or concentrating on a physical task. I’m not talking about fake-smiling (plastering on a smile to mask real feelings of despair) – but I often find that when I consciously put a smile on my face, I feel more happy (or maybe I remember that I am happy). Another method I use to reset the mood is bursting out in song or making a loud, silly noise (I have preschoolers – they think I’m hilarious).

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

  • When I face hard circumstances, do I default to worrying and fretting, or do I take my concerns to God in prayer? This is one the Lord has really been impressing upon my heart lately – just how much worry is a waste of time. Sometimes I will spend half a day worrying about something, going over scenarios in my head, trying to think of ways to fix it but coming up short, which leads to more worry. Then I remember to pray. And I put my concerns in God’s hands and walk away from it. And I breathe easy. And I wonder why it took me so long to do, realising that I just wasted a whole morning’s worth of thoughts. God wants us to bring our concerns to him – he has the power to take away our anxiety and also to fix what is troubling us (even if that doesn’t always look how we imagined). If we truly believe this, we should work to make our default response one of prayer.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:27

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

dsc_0136

I’d love to hear your thoughts – what do you default to?

Idleness or busyness?

Cheerfulness or sombreness?

Worry or prayer?

 

 

 

Does God care about your parking spot?

I’ve often heard people scoffing about the kind of people who pray for God to provide them with a good parking spot.

god-parking-spot

A clever ad for a car park company!

These people seem to see God as some kind of supernatural philanthropist, granting answers to prayer if they are “worthy ” enough. To them, the idea of God having the time or inclination to help people with something as frivolous as a parking spot is ridiculous. Don’t they know there are starving children in the world? Terrorists destroying homes and families? Surely God has better things to do…

Then there are those who feel quite comfortable asking God for a premium parking spot, or anything else that pops into their heads. To these people, God is a happy-go-lucky genie, passively staying in his magic lamp until you beckon him to shorten the queue at the cafe or put in a good word for you at the job interview.

But you know what – I’ve asked God for a good parking spot before, and even thanked him for providing one when I didn’t ask! And I’ve also asked him to bring comfort, relief and provision to those who are suffering horribly locally and around the world.

I don’t think these two kinds of prayer are in conflict. Here’s why:

God is a Good Father

Jesus tells us to pray to God as “Our Father in Heaven” and Paul tells us that if we are in Christ, we have been adopted into “sonship”. If we are Christians, then God is our father.

Here’s the thing about good fathers, they care about the big stuff and the trivial stuff. I’ve called my dad to ask him where would be the best spot to plant my tomatoes and to tell him I’m pregnant. He had no more “time” for one phone call than for the other. He loves to hear from me at all.

This is how it is with God. I talk to him about all kinds of stuff, the big things and the little things.

He delights to hear it all.

090

My kids have a good father too.

God Gives Good Gifts

(Sorry, went a bit overboard on the alliteration there, lol!)

Not only does God care about the trivial things in our life, he delights to use them to bring us joy (if we are paying attention).

James 1:17 says that

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Got a great parking spot? You can thank God for that!

Beautiful sunrise? You can thank God for that!

A peaceful moment where all the kids are playing happily? You can thank God for that!

Lightbulb moment with that impossible problem at work? You can thank God for that!

dsc_0363

The older kids sitting together at sunset the other day.

God does not have Limited Resources

What about the idea that God is too busy to deal with our insignificant car park requests because there are many, many more pressing matters for him to attend to?

Well, this would make sense if God had limited capabilities like humans do.

As a mother, I’m very familiar with the need to prioritise.

If my daughter asks me to come look a fascinating blade of grass, but the baby just woke up screaming and my middle boy just walked into the table and bumped his head, then I’m not going to have time for that blade of grass. (I may even feel inwardly frustrated at the request!)

But it’s not like that for God. He doesn’t have a limited amount of time or energy to give out.

Helping someone find a parking spot does not take his attention away from other things!

dsc_0342_1

God doesn’t fit in a box, but my son does!

God Wants a Relationship with Us

It all comes down to relationship.

Because of my intimate relationship with God, it just makes sense to me to talk to Him, whether I am grieved by the latest horrible thing in the news or really hoping for a parking spot close to the doors. This is the way I “pray without ceasing” – I carry on a continuous conversation with God throughout my day, spanning many different topics.

Have you been saved by Jesus, do you call God your father?

If you do, then he has all the time in the world to hear from you about the big things and the small things.

If you don’t, then you have bigger issues than a parking spot to deal with.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Come to God, confess that you need his forgiveness and be welcomed into the family.