Thursday, 9 January 2014

Trusting Egypt

I was struck today while reading Isaiah how much chapter 31 applies to us today, particularly if you replace the word Egypt with The Government and horsemen and chariots with legislation and politicians.

I will conduct this experiment in the following:

Isaiah Chapter 31:1-3
Woe to those who go to the Government for help and rely on legislation, who trust in laws because they are many and politicians because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!  And yet he is wise and brings disaster; he does not call back his words,  but will arise against the house of evildoers and against the helper of those who work iniquity. The Government is man and not God, and the politicians are flesh and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out his hand, the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall and they will all perish together.

It is striking how this reveals a parallel idolatry in God's people today.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Observation of Weymouth

Weymouth is small sea town, curled sleepily on a bay, blue, calm and lake-like but for the  slow pacing to and fro of the tide, which tumbles small shells and pebbles up and down the beach.  The softer sand lines the town front, where aged holiday makers slumber on Edwardian benches. Farther back are cheerful guest houses with flowerpots on every step and railing.  The town had its heyday in the Georgian era and King George III still hovers over the waters, enshrined in regal robes behind an iron fence.  One can almost imagine him being wheeled in his bathing contraption far into the sea waters to conceal his indecency from the public.  Perhaps holidays like these were balm to his madness.   A Tudor fort also glares on the unseen foe from a high point on the tip of land  and behind it the tiny peninsula of Portland peers out.   Behind the many guesthouses St. John’s, tall and steepled, Victorian through and through, points the passerby heavenward.  In front of the church, Queen Victoria herself stands on a little island between the roads,  engraven in black, carrying her ball and sceptre and looking down grimly on the speedy traffic, which proceeds unfazed.

Monday, 29 October 2012

My Journey with Balaam's Ass and Other Stories

Today began nicely, albeit in the darkness of five-twenty am. A voice called from the darkness; I drew near and it asked me for toys. I delivered them and went back to bed. The voice joined us in bed, and eventually hounded us out at not much past six. All well and good.  The day is Monday, the order of the day is laundry, grocery order online, and well, a sense of mission.  My brain is foggy and tired and I am not sure what this mission is, but it must involve a journey, with my two boys strapped into their streamlined, red double buggy.  I spend most of the morning pondering which direction to go in.  Exhaustion escalates, I cannot think. I leave the laundry in suspense. It does not know whether it will be finished. Neither do I.  I load the buggy up. The tyre is flat again. I pump it up with Jerome on the floor and Caedmon bumping me and rolling the buggy backwards. In the end we make it out the door.

My first achievement is to buy a booster seat. There it is, nicely perched on the sunshade over Caedmon's seat. That's okay. Once I had a vacuum on a buggy.  I am unmoved. We wander into the mall. Caedmon rides one of those things that you put coins in.  We leave. On exit we see the poppy appeal lady. I want a poppy. I give my bit to the veterans, and start attempting to attach the poppy to my coat.  It is at this moment that I do my very popular attention-getting trick. I have practised it at various places in England.  It is best when done in a long line which you are blocking with a buggy and massively pregnant belly. Once you are thoroughly in everybody's way, you drop your change purse so that it explodes money everywhere. Mostly two-penny pieces. If you have too many pound coins then people might be conscientious and help you.  The best part of this exercise is seeing how many people pretend not to notice.  I like to think that this repetition on my part is simply part of a deliberate scientific experientment. It gets some reaction this time, perhaps because I am the only one there.This is a trend. When I did this experiment on the sidewalk in Weymouth in front of an old Dorset man who reminded me a bit of Long John Silver, but with both legs intact, he actually stood over me positively crowing with laughter. That was the most surprising result in my British experiment, and I think it perhaps deviates from the norm.

Once my change has been regained, my poppy attached, my son reinstalled in his buggy, from which he had escaped, I decide that what I really need is a pumpkin spice latte. After all, it is British half term break, and I need something to make me feel as though I too, along with the hoards of overpainted, underdressed 13-year-olds out shopping, am having a break.  I get my latte and begin the journey home. This is when I realize my latte was ill-timed.  It is in fact a herculean effort to steer a buggy one handed with about forty pounds of child in it, a booster seat on the sunshade and a hot latte in the other hand threatening to splosh on the baby---on British pavement which, if not precisedly cobbled, goes for a similarly jarring effect.  I guzzle about half the coffee, and the rest goes cold and sploshes on the sunshade at various intervals, but it is mine and I will not be parted from it. I now must bring to bear one of the charactaristics of my buggy. It reminds me very much of Balaam's ass, although I am not certain that I can impute to it the same kindly motives.  At various intervals the wheel likes to get stuck sideways and you cannot budge the whole machine unless you drag it forward by the front wheel. This feature is the cause of much fury on my part. Unfortunately it will not, like the ass, explain itself when I beat it, and I should hope that its stubbornness is not the result of the angel of death constantly barring my path. That would be unfortunate.

We skip ahead to another scene of action. We are on the busy road nearing our house, passing the internet cafes lined with hookas, and various shops of interest, when my booster leaps off of the buggy and out of its bag. I rush to grab it and the man arranging his fruit catches the buggy as it rolls backward. I am now trying to reinsert the booster into the bag with my coffee in the middle of the sidewalk. A man picks up my coffee for me.  We did eventually reach home. Caedmon fell asleep two minutes from our house and I successfully transferred him.

Now it is time to do grocery shop online. Right, more energy now as the coffee has begun to do its good work. I look for the order I had done yesterday. I had ordered a month's worth of meat to go in the freezer and had planned to add all of my other items today.  I can't find my order.  This is because I had accidentally scheduled a delivery to arrive in an hour or so.  I had wanted it all to come tomorrow.  The man delivering it did make a slightly unintellible comment about the peculiarity of my order.  I did look like the world's craziest carnivore.

At some point after this I have my laundry unfolded in the middle of the kitchen, two boys awake and needing me, and just about every toy dumped in the living room.  Right. Getting a bit fruity.  I resort to a little Peppa Pig for Caedmon.  CCR and singing along to "Bad Moon Rising" gets me through the kitchen tidying. Now for dinner, and this is where I do my other trick--failing to read the recipe. My frugal spirit had decided to make tortillas with our last two cups of flour.  Unfortunately I put three times the ammount of fat in as I was supposed to. My greasy flour is still in a bowl on the counter.  After a buggy run in the dark we are sorted. Thank you Old El Paso.

I think I am definitely living in a comedy.  Maybe even a Peter Sellers one. 

I should just add I was interrupted in my writing here. Caedmon threw up all over his bed.  Yup. I had a feeling when I heard a faint voice in the backround that the story was going to continue and it did.  Poor chap. He has now been tucked back into a clean bed, the doxology has been sung over him, and I am back to the keyboard.  The comedy is wrapping up for the night, I think, and Balaam's ass slumbers in the hallway.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Submission, Authority and the Tumble to Glory

Submit. It is a word nobody seems to like, even conservative Christians who feel that Christian wives ought to. It occurred to me today that there is another helpful way of viewing this concept in marriage. Everything that the Bible requires of us in response to our salvation, every virtue, must be found in our Lord Jesus.  Jesus displayed perfect submission to his Father, when in the garden of Gethsemene, he said, "Nevertheless not what I will but what thou wilt."  Never was there a greater act of submission, no one has had to go farther than Jesus Christ. There is also no greater glorification than that of Jesus Christ: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Phil. 2:9-11. So, we see that with the obedience  of submission to those whom God has ordained authorities (and no others) comes glorification and honor.  Another virtue that Jesus Christ embodies is that of sacrificial authority. God the Son, incarnate and laying down his life for his people-this is how Christian husbands are to live with their wives, and again, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ he has been exalted to the highest place. 

So we see that husband and wife are both called to imitate Christ in their relationship in a particular way. Both are submit to the word in doing so. This results in glorification, the one of the other.  This is beauty; this is Christ and his bride in a miniature. For as a wife submits her will, and as the husband sacrifices his body both in small ways, they are imitating Christ, and as they imitate Christ in the specific ways particularly assigned, they are a more truthful picure of Christ and the church, and lest we devalue the church aspect of this image, we see that Paul prays for the Ephesians that "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened: that ye may know what is the hope of his calling and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints"  Eph.1:18. This leads us to the astounding conclusion that Jesus' inheritance in the saints i.e. the Church, is a rich one. Again in Ephesians we see a glorious picture of the culmination of all things in Christ: "That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him" (Eph. 1:10). The glorious unity of Christ and his spotless bride is here, but not only that, this unity of Christ and his Church catches the church up into the glorious unity and indwelling of the eternal Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit world without end. Amen.

Therefore husbands and wives have the immense privilege to picture in a tiny way the beauty of the good news, embodied in a particular way in their relationship with one another, and the more you think about that tiny picture of the gospel the more you are swept away into the greater mysteries of the glorious story.  Paul was (Eph. 5:32).

Post Scriptum: I am musing about marriage, and it sometime happens that someone stumbles upon a post like this and is offended because they are single, but I am not talking about the individual Christian life here. This is not a devaluing of other stages of life or other situations that God has put you in. In all things and everywhere imitate Christ.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Homemaking: A Calling or a Hobby?

Why do I find homemaking so fulfilling? Why is it that I have no doubts or worries, that I am not wondering about my identity or looking for something meaningful to do?  I ask myself this because it does appear to puzzle people.  I have people suggest to me that I am happy at home because I am the homemaking type, or that I just enjoy that sort of thing, which seems to imply that my favorite hobbies are baking cakes and sewing cushions to adorn my sofa.  This amuses me and has struck me as profoundly inaccurate.  It is indeed true to say that I enjoy making a cake or sewing a cushion, but not for their own sake.  In fact, my personality and gifts are probably less in the domestic arts than many women who feel they are losing their identity by staying at home.  As a girl and a student I tended towards being a bookworm and climbing every tree in range.  This of climbing trees and also reading in them did not diminish in college.  I found history, and literature, ancient mythology and old languages fascinating and deeply stirring. I only occasionally cooked, and I sewed even less.  Knitting and cross stitch still fail to captivate my mind. Cleaning the bathroom captivates me even less.  Adventure and academics sounded pretty darn good to me.  Either I have indeed lost my identity as so many women seem to fear for themselves or something else is going on.

I always knew even as a little girl that I wanted to be married and a mother who stayed at home.  I had my single missionary moment at twelve, considered rock climbing at the age of eight, but deep down, I knew what I really wanted.  This was because the most godly fruitful women in my life had no career and were not seeking the high places and yet their influence was and is profound, and the fruit of their labours in the small things was impressive.  Before I even had words to frame it I could smell the aroma of a wonderful God-given  calling.  Of course I grew in my understanding of this calling and found it in the scriptures.  I began to see how all of my knowledge and gifts could be offered up in this place.  I knew that when I left my parents’ roof my home would be my talent which I could either bury in the ground or  work and multiply it in order to offer it back to God.  

One of the scriptures that clearly emphasizes the calling of women to their homes is Titus 2:4-5.  It tells us what the older women are to teach the young women.   This means that it is a command from God and it is specific to women.  It says nothing about what women may not do, but it does delegate profound responsibilities to women:  “To be discreet chaste, keepers at home, obedient to their own husband, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”  Many would say that this was culture specific, but there is nothing in the context to suggest this--nothing but our modern desire for it to be true.  The desire to shirk these responsibilities is caused by a belief that they are not gifts, that they are not in fact good things, that it is burdensome and limiting to keep the home not to mention the obey your own husbands bit.  The human heart always wants to decide what is in fact good, noble and important instead of letting God.  We suspect God of tricking us out of a good thing, and like the serpent suggested in the garden,  keeping us from being like him, making us into servants.  This comes from a profoundly wrong view of God.  If we are his children, then he desires good things for us. How much more will our Father in heaven give us than the world will? We must stop fearing servanthood. Being a servant is good. It is what our Savior did.  He did not do this because servanthood was the goal, but because servanthood is the way to exaltation.  Homemakers are indeed serving in their homes, but the more they serve the more they are exalted

So why do I find my what I do fulfilling? Because it is not a hobby but a calling from God. If God has given me a gift, then it must be good; if God has given me a job to do than it must be meaningful.  It is that belief that gives me peace and joy in my calling, not an innate love of cake-baking, and sewing.  The many small jobs that are included in homemaking are meaningful only if they are making tangible the love that I have received from God and communicating it in the realm that I have complete dominion over. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


The narrow streets with cracks and patches of neglect tunnel between the grey dull dwellings, cold craftsmanship curtained and quiet, peering into another morning.

Then the autumn breeze breathes life as the Creator breathed on Adam’s clay. It comes with sun-gold riding on its back, brushing brick with painter’s care.

The poor works of mortal men are taken up into God’s tapestry, woven into a web. Bone’s of brick that leap to life, and then blaze bright on a blue canvass.