Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fat souls are better than clean floors.

(Image source: Booko)
I can clearly remember one night when I was big pregnant with Blaire and realized too late that we were out of tortillas. I figured I would just make some quickly. When I started this project I was alone in the kitchen. About a minute and a half into it I had been discovered. Four chairs into the kitchen, four children anxiously awaiting a chance to help. I remember Titus actually bumping into the back of my legs with his chair and very politely saying, "Excuse me, Mama! 'Scuse me!" Then came the real action: Titus wildly dusting flour on the tortilla I was rolling, someone cracking into the drawer and passing out rolling pins. Everyone rolling, and dusting, and rolling, and wadding the dough back up and having a grand old time too. I looked out of the haze of flour and elbows feeling very ready to blow the whistle, and I saw my husband smiling at me and laughing. He nodded at me and said, "It's okay." I knew what he meant. Fat souls are better than clean floors. They were so delighted to be in the thick of it -- dinner was late, I could have slept standing up, and we were doing exactly the right thing -- throwing flour around the kitchen. And it was okay. I don't even remember cleaning it up (quite likely because I was asleep on the couch while Luke did it all!). Most of the time the children do not know that what they are doing is overwhelming.
  - p. 52-53, Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic (italics original)

There are times when we do need to pull our kids and tell them what are acceptable or suitable behaviours and what are not. But I am far more often tempted to be driven by my preferred lifestyle to shape their behaviours, forgetting that I must nurture their souls and connect with their hearts first. Fat souls are better than clean floors.

I am still reading this book through, but I highly recommend it to any parents, especially those who have or want to have more than 2 children. Try Booko to find the book.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Most Misused Verses in the Bible

Image Source: Booko
There are some common misunderstandings and misapplications of certain passages of the bible. Some are more harmful than others, but all deserve to be corrected. This book, The Most Misused Verses in the Bible, is helpful in checking your own understandings of certain bible passages, and to also learn how to better your interpretative methods. You may not agree with every interpretation of the author in this book, but you will appreciate his methods. If anything, this book will cause you to give more care and attention whenever you read the bible.

One caution from me, however.
This book is correcting common mistakes, and is full of great information. With it, you can be tempted to just use the newly acquired knowledge to pick out every mistake someone else is committing. You will want to and need to correct them in some way, but you must use wisdom and approach them with grace and humility, sometimes choosing another time to address such mistakes, so that they may not be discouraged and that you aren't simply showing off. Watch out for your own pride, and this book will prove to be greatly useful.

For another short review of this book, see this blog post by Trevin Wax over at the gospel coalition.

(Check Booko for places to buy this book.)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

I am an awful teacher.

This year, for the first time in my life, I started teaching in a Special Religious Education class, commonly known as the Scripture class. It was a daunting thing to take on, but at the same time, I was eager to do it as part of my ministry training (by the way, I have begun my MTS Apprenticeship this year and the Scripture class is part of the job/training I am doing this year).

It’s something I had never done before. I didn’t even attend a Primary School in Australia. So, it’s understandable that I was so busy focusing on getting the teaching content ready and getting through it during the class. But, it dawned on me yesterday as I was preparing for the class that I hadn’t been as faithful as I should have been with the Scripture teaching. I felt that I had been doing the bare minimum to get by in the class. I was getting the teaching content ready so I won’t embarrass myself by running out of things to say, for example. I also felt that I had been lacking in prayer for my students.

After the class, on the way to my car, I met another Scripture teacher from my church. My class went reasonably well, I was thinking, despite the kids getting quite loud and distracted – we did manage to get through the material the way I hoped to do. But as I was talking to the teacher, I had to confess to her that I had realised that I hadn’t been as faithful in praying and preparing for my classes. And then she reminded me that it’s important to prepare thoroughly, but it’s perhaps more important to be there for those kids and through the relationships they will learn much about God and how wonderful He really is.

With that, I felt even more rebuked and convicted that I had been an awful teacher. I had been just so busy “doing” things in the class, I hardly paid attention to any of the students! Not only that, even I could see that some kids were becoming more disengaged because of the way I had related to them. I could give various excuses for this, being a first time teacher, in a system that I am not familiar with, with 20-odd number of kids who are very talkative, etc, etc, it’s hard to relate with them in the class in a generous, kind, patient, gracious, and helpful way. Nevertheless, these excuses do not make me a good teacher. I still have to confess that I had been an awful teacher.

I am thankful that God had brought this fact to my attention. I am glad to see it. But I am praying that God would so grow and equip me that I would be a better teacher for these young students. I am also praying that these kids under my care, albeit for only meagre half an hour once a week, would grow in their true knowledge of God and love Him who love us first for whole of their lives. Will you pray for me and for my students? 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’“But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”    Luke 18:9-14 (HCSB)

I knew this parable. I knew for a long time. I heard and read this passage many times. But until today, my understanding of this parable was quite off the mark. All this time, I thought the meaning of this parable was about condemning religious hypocrisy. But today, I was privileged to listen to two different sermons by two different men from my church on this same passage. And both corrected my faulty understanding and hammered in the gospel of grace into me through this passage. You see, Jesus was telling this parable to those who trusted in their own good works (v.9). Those who tried to earn a good standing with God by their own efforts. Those who were confident that they were righteous before God because they were doing so many good things. By this parable, Jesus was turning their world upside down. He was saying, and He is saying to all of us even today, that we can never be right with God by our own efforts, yet, at the same time, that God is happy to declare us righteous when we recognise our sins and appeal to Him for mercy.

How does or can God forgive a sinner when even a morally upright person like the Pharisee isn’t good enough for Him? You may or may not be clear on how this works, but if you are wondering, you should keep on listening to this man, Jesus who told the parable.

Why don’t you come join us in journeying with Jesus? (Today's talks on the passage above will be available in a couple of days, morning and evening talks.)

Edit: The talks are now available, both the morning talk and the evening talk.