Dealing with depression (book review)


DEALING WITH DEPRESSION
Trusting God through the dark times
By Sarah Collins and Jayne Haynes
Christian Focus. 128 pages. £4.99
ISBN 978 1 845 506 339

Depression is an increasingly common condition and Christians get it. Christian workers often feel out of their depth pastorally. Friends and family feel distressed and bewildered. There may be unease about whether the problem is spiritual or physical. This little book has been written to help.

Its authors, a former Christian worker and a GP, give a concise, well balanced and easy-to-follow account of both medical and spiritual aspects of depression and how it can be understood and managed. There are helpful testimonies of sufferers sharing their experience enabling the reader to get inside the condition and gain some appreciation of the range of experiences depressive illness brings. There is also very practical chapter on how to help a depressed person and the pitfalls to avoid, which in my experience is right on target.

Three arrestingly honest and insightful accounts of depression are included as appendices These are written by a sufferer (Roger Carswell), the spouse of a sufferer and a pastor sharing their experience and wisdom from different perspectives.

The book is written primarily for helpers rather than sufferers, though it would be very useful to read and discuss with a friend who is mildly depressed or who is currently well.

There are certain omissions. The authors seem largely to have mild to moderate depression in mind. More severe depression is somewhat different and the help required, both medical and practical, is also different. Likewise post-natal depression is a relatively common condition with particular hazards and only gets a brief mention. However, in such a short book there are bound to be compromises and there are plenty of suggestions for further reading.

This book is an easy and rewarding read. I think it is an excellent starting point for understanding depression and would have no hesitation in recommending it.

Annie Gemmill, 
GP and pastor’s wife

Reverse Missionaries – who has inspired you?


If you ask the average person in the street what they think of church, most would say it is boring and irrelevant, a view backed up by dwindling attendances and church closures.

So what’s the answer? Maybe it’s time for countries with thriving congregations to send missionaries to Britain to reverse the decline? That’s exactly what the BBC’s mini documentary series entitledReverse Missionaries was all about as it followed the activities of three missionaries. They came from Jamaica, Malawi and India to visit Britain and grow local churches that have been in decline and which they see as ‘dying spiritually’.

Missionaries’ birthplaces

For added interest, each missionary went to a town that in years past was the birthplace of missionaries that had worked in their own countries and had directly influenced their faith in God.

In the first programme, Baptist pastor and former gang member, Franklin Small, traveled from Kingston, Jamaica, to King’s Stanley in the Cotswolds. King’s Stanley was once home to Franklin’s hero, Thomas Burchell, a missionary who also fought for the abolition of slavery in Jamaica in the first half of the 19th century.

The second featured Pastor John Chilimtsidya who travelled from Blantyre, Malawi, to Blantyre, Scotland, the home of David Livingstone who inspired him to be a Christian. The final programme covered Kshama Jayaraj from India, and her experiences in Belfast, home to Kshama’s inspirational heroine, Victorian missionary Amy Carmichael, who spent 50 years in India helping vulnerable children.

Each of the missionaries have fast-growing, large congregations in the churches they run back home, many of whom are young people. Their challenge was to see if they could turn the church they were assigned to in Britain around.

Glimpses of God’s power

There will be many who would say that people of different nations have different views of God and so the results they see there could never be replicated here. And yet the program showed glimpses that this just isn’t true.

As my own pastor says, people in general do not have a problem with God, but they do have a problem with going to church and getting bored with vague, irrelevant messages delivered using out-of-date methods.

Although from different cultures and backgrounds, all three showed similar traits:

* a genuine concern for people who don’t know God as a personal friend;
* an infectious, enthusiasm about the gospel and absolute faith that God can change lives;
* going out to where people were, adapting to people’s situations and interests, such as getting communities involved in organising football teams, painting murals, rather than expecting them to come to the church on the church’s terms;
* an emphasis that the church has to change its approach if it is going to attract new and especially young people, particularly in its style of music and worship;
* not being afraid to openly ask people if they could pray for them or asking them if they wanted to come to know God.

As I watched these missionaries in action, I couldn’t help feel that this was the real church in action. Exactly the kind of thing that Jesus did and that he asks us, his followers, to do.

Did it work?

Interestingly, all three churches they worked with initially thought their direct approach wouldn’t work. However, despite the reluctance of many of the church members, they were allowed to change things, to go outside and ‘do church’ in a modern style among those who derided and mocked the church.

In each situation, the programme ended with the respective churches getting fuller with people of all ages and some giving their lives to God. Great stuff.

It’s interesting that these missionaries adopted the same approach as their heroes. Amy Carmichael’s secret was to adapt the gospel to the people’s needs. She was bold, saw the social problems and went into the thick of it. David Livingstone realised that direct preaching in a church situation didn’t work in Africa and so he adapted to their culture and involved himself in their daily lives. A lesson for us all if we are to reach our generation.

Connecting with people

I’ll leave the final words to three quotes from the third programme. Kshama Jayaraj said: ‘I just wish people would meet under the name of Jesus and no other name, whether that be Protestant or Catholic’.

‘She [Kshama] is a whirlwind of enthusiasm. Out on the streets meeting people, inviting them along. Maybe I should be a little more upfront and out there like her’, said the minister of the Belfast church.

‘We need to go and connect with people — sometimes you and I are the only gospel they will read — will they see Jesus in you?’ said Kshama Jayaraj.

Michael Coveney, 
part of Transform Work UK

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Work and Rest (Pt 4)


Overwork destroys joy. It leaves no room for wholesome fun or stillness. When we never stop to relax or reflect we tend to lose perspective. Overwork can lead to burn-out.

Genesis 1 and 2 tell of God spreading out his work of creation over 6 discrete days. But why did this take a period of time at all? He is God, he could have created it all in an instant had he chosen to do so.

It seems that God used this timescale specifically to teach us that we need rest. God himself does not require rest. His strength is inexhaustible. But he thus gives us, made in his image, Genesis 1.26, 27, a pattern of work and rest to copy.

God made us to work. But he also indicates that rest is essential for us as finite creatures.

THE FUNDAMENTAL PATTERNS OF WORK AND REST
In Genesis we find that as God makes the world two basic rhythms of work and rest are established.

  1. In Genesis 1 we find a daily cycle of work and rest with evening and morning, Genesis 1.5; 1.8; 1.13; 1.19; 1.23; 1.31 (cf. John 9.4). God appears to work during the day but cease in the evening until the next morning.
  2. In Genesis 2 we find a weekly cycle of work and rest established. The pattern is of six days work followed by a day of rest, Genesis 2.1-3.

In Genesis 2.1-3, Moses draws attention to the special nature of the 7th day in several ways. First, although 2.1-3 belongs with Genesis 1 there is nevertheless a break from the ‘And God said…’ pattern introducing the previous 6 days. Second, the day is emphasized in a way the other days are not. Each is mentioned only once, 1.5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31. The phrase ‘the seventh day’ is repeated three times in 2.2-3. What is more the Hebrew phrase occurs in three separate sentences each composed of 7 words. Third, though the word ‘Sabbath’ is not here, yet the word for ‘rest’ used in this verses is virtually the same word (Shabbath compared with Shabath). Fourthly, God is said to ‘bless’ the seventh day. Implied is the thought that those who so rest from labour one day in 7 will be blessed. Fifthly, we are told God ‘made it holy,’ a day set apart for God. Sixthly, the ‘evening and morning’ formula is abandoned for the 7th day (hinting at God’s salvation provision of an eternal Sabbath in Christ?).

There are those who try to deny that the day of rest is a creation ordinance, arguing that it was first revealed at Sinai, that it was for the Israelites only and was part of the ceremonial law which is now gone in Christ. But as we see from the wording, to deny a reference to the Sabbath in Genesis 2.2, 3 would be to be pedantic in the extreme. Furthermore, Moses specifically explains in the 10 commandments that the Sabbath is does go back to creation, Exodus 20.11. So to try to restrict the one in 7 day of rest to it being solely the covenant sign of the Mosaic covenant with Israel won’t wash.

The 4th commandment is part of the moral law. It is wrong to try to make people work 7 days a week.

REST IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The great emphasis of the NT is on the spiritual rest of salvation to be found in the Lord Jesus as we cease from relying on our works to put us right with God and trust in Christ alone, Matthew 11.28-29. Believing in Christ opens for us the prospect of heavenly rest, the eternal Sabbath which still remains for the people of God, Hebrews 4.9, 10; Revelation 14.12, 13. In this sense it is true that Christ brings to fulfilment the rest pictured in the Sabbath.

But to say that because we already enjoy something of this spiritual rest we no longer require the physical rest of one day off in seven would be as ridiculous as saying that because Christ and the church fulfil the true meaning of marriage, we no longer require marriage between men and women.

  • The Lord Jesus, while rejecting the man-made rules of the Pharisees concerning the Sabbath, confirmed that confirmed the pattern of one day of rest in 7 as a good gift of God for mankind and declared its place within the sphere of his Messianic Lordship, Mark 2.27, 28.
  • As Lord of the Sabbath he encouraged the first Christians to meet together on the first day of the week rather than the last through his resurrection appearances and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost which was a Sunday, John 20.1, 19; Acts 2.1.
  • No other day, except the first day of the week, is singled out for special mention in the NT showing it had special significance for Christians, Matthew 28.1; Mark 16.2; Luke 24.1; John 20.1; Acts 20.7.
  • Paul’s words of  apparent ‘indifference’ towards ‘special days’  Romans 14.5,6 and ‘a Sabbath day’ Colossians 2.17, occur against a Jewish influence in the church and should not be generalised. Paul himself saw ‘every first day of the week’ was special, 1 Corinthians 16.2. And the apostle John certainly thought Sunday was special, calling it ‘the Lord’s day,’ Revelation 1.10.

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
Part 3 in the series is ‘Male and Female in the context of Work

A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.

Do you think study Bibles can limit Bible study?… and a few other links


Enjoy the following links!

Gospel Coalition – How study Bibles can limit Bible study

The Good Book Company – A free John Piper book PDF download, a video and a web-site check-list… what more could you want!

A Faith to live by – What your endless activity says about you (article in NY Times)

Desiring God – Proven weapons in the fight for holiness

Tim Challies – 4 sources of Christian encouragement

Teamwork: how the church should avoid shooting itself in the foot


What is God’s blessing?

Alec Motyer is very helpful here in his book Journey. He tells us that ‘blessing’ is a broad word for God’s gracious response to our needs. When Christians pray — as we often must when we are ignorant of a friend’s specific needs — ‘Lord, please bless so and so’, we are, in fact, asking the Lord to review our friend’s case and to react appropriately. It is actually not a bad way to pray (so long as it’s not thoughtless) because it brings our friends to God and his wisdom. ‘Blessing’ is the Lord himself drawing near to us in all his boundless sufficiency for every need.

Psalm 133 tells us that where ‘brothers [and sisters] live together in unity … there the LORD bestows his blessing’. As we think about teamwork, our conclusion must be that, in a church, missionary society and especially in a leadership team, we need relationships which are (in and under Christ) harmonious.

This leads us to ask a couple of questions. What does this unity look like? How do we achieve and maintain it? The great passage which addresses these questions is, of course, Philippians 2.

What does this unity look like?

Paul requires unity in the church (Philippians 1.27), and he spells out what he is looking for. ‘Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose’ (Philippians 2.2).

* One in mind

Literally Paul says: ‘Think the same thing…’. There is to be an agreement, first of all, in the truth. Positively, the truth of the gospel is that in which we can rejoice together and shapes the direction of a church’s ministry. Negatively, unless you agree on the fundamentals of the gospel, your leadership team will be pulling in different directions. Lack of doctrinal agreement in a leadership team, on fundamental areas, produces tension. A strong, biblical doctrinal statement for a church is a safeguard and stimulus to unity and should be honoured by all.

* One in love

Paul does not say, ‘loving the same things’, but ‘having the same love’. It is Alec Motyer once again who tells us: ‘This can be nothing other than a love identical with God’s love, his own love bestowed on us, so that we act and react as he would do’ (BST Philippians). God’s love is a redemptive love. It is a love which sacrifices itself for the benefit of the other person — to rescue that person and to bring them to fruition. There may be difficulties in a leadership team because this love is missing. We are following the agenda of promoting ourselves, rather than doing the best for our colleagues. The older minister can be touchy over his standing. The young buck, youth worker, can be keen to show his prowess to the detriment of others. God’s love works to build others up. Do relationships among leaders function so as to build the confidence of the other person, or to knock it?

With this in mind I would argue for a person-centred, rather than a programme-centred approach to church apprenticeships. Develop that youngster!

* One in purpose

For the NIV’s ‘spirit and purpose’, we might substitute ‘heart and soul’. What you put your ‘heart and soul’ into is what you are desperately seeking to achieve. What is the purpose for your church team? We might rightly say our aim must be the glory of God. But, having said that, there is still room for difficulty. The minister can focus on the glory of God in the Sunday services and among the grown-ups. Youth leaders can see the young people and God’s glory among them as top priority. A women’s group leader might have her own agenda. And sometimes those things can come into conflict, even when we all believe we are seeking God’s glory.

We can have our own little competitive kingdoms within the church. And that problem often surfaces when we cross one another’s boundary lines. ‘I thought I was counselling him, what are you getting involved for?’ We need to bear in mind that God’s concern is not just for the youth group or just the adults, but for the whole church. In fact, the glory of the gospel is that it is able to bring unity across otherwise unbridgeable divides, like race, gender and age. Don’t work counter to that glory.

Can you see what this unity looks like? It is a team spirit in which we are one in our thinking, our affections and our aims.

Achieving and maintaining unity?

Paul’s answer is Christ-like humility. ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus’ (2.3-5).

Humility not celebrity. The church is sadly falling into celebrity culture despite Paul’s warnings. ‘I am of Paul … I am of Apollos’, we read of the church in Corinth. The temptation is to become a ‘somebody’ in the Christian world. But Jesus ‘made himself nothing’ (v.7).

* Humility is vital because…

It enables us to submit ourselves to God’s truth. It enables us to love others. It enables us to see God’s glory as the purpose of our lives and not ourselves as the centre of the universe. In other words humility will facilitate the unity of mind, love and purpose we have been talking about and builds the team.

Humility will enable us to ‘consider others better than ourselves’ (v.3). One thing that means in a team is that humility will enable us to recognise other people’s gifts and give them the opportunity to use them. Humility will ‘look out for the interests of others’ (v.4). How unfortunate it is when a trainee pastor is taken on but is hardly ever allowed to preach. But humility will give him the opportunity to develop.

Humility will also enable us to accept and work at our place in the team. Have you ever come across the Belbin analysis* of the roles which make a good management team? It is quite often used in business and industry. A good team, we are told, needs nine gifts. (Of course you can have more than one gift in one person.) It needs an implementer, someone who turns ideas into practical actions. It needs a co-ordinator, a chairperson who clarifies goals and promotes decision making. It needs a creative ideas person, a resource investigator, a monitor (who sees the problems), team workers (diplomats who avert friction), a completer/finisher who is painstaking and delivers on time, and specialists who supply rare knowledge and skills, etc. Humility will help you to accept your role and not be vying with others. ‘I want to be the chairman’, etc. It will also enable you not to misuse your role. Chairmen can be manipulative, completer/finishers can be reluctant to delegate, etc.

Humility will aid us in building up mutual trust in a team. It brings reliability. Pride says: ‘I’m too important to be expected to keep to the schedule. I couldn’t care how my unreliability will affect others. They’ve got to cut me slack’. But humility does the opposite and makes us people of our word whom others can trust. Also it is true that, where leaders are humble enough to show a little vulnerability, they often generate more commitment from others. It builds the team. Others say: ‘I see he/she needs me’. We see Jesus showing his vulnerability in Gethsemane (Mark 14.34).

* Humility is achieved by…

How do we find humility? The text of Philippians suggests two things.

First, we find humility by being aware of our weaknesses. Why does Paul mention ‘selfish ambition and vain conceit’ (v.3)? He does so because that is our natural bent as sinners. Pride promotes self. That means that naturally we are likely to act so as to ruin the unity of the team. Recognise you are a dreadful sinner apart from God’s grace. You are well able to wreck the unity and so close off God’s blessing.

Second, we find humility by focussing our gaze continually on the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘Who being in very nature God…made himself nothing…and became obedient to death — even death on a cross’ (vv.5-9). Jesus Christ is God in all the fullness of what it means to be God, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, almighty, perfect, the proper object of all worship and adoration for the whole universe. Yet he humbled himself. If God has been humble, who do we think we are to be proud?

Monkeys and donkeys

There is that great picture in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia story, The Last Battle, of the donkey Puzzle, who, at the wicked monkey’s instigation, dresses himself up in an old lion skin and pretends to be Aslan. The monkey, of course, manipulates him to cause havoc in Narnia. When we are proud we put ourselves at the devil’s disposal and make donkeys of ourselves.

No, no. We are sinners; that alone should humble us. We have been saved alone by the amazing grace of God and the love of Christ. And love for him who so loved us should lead us to imitate him in his redemptive love and humility. We must translate this into our relationships as we work in the team of God’s church.

Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail? by R. Meredith Belbin (Butterworth / Heinemann, 1981)

Dr. John Benton – Editor of Evangelicals Now

Eric Liddell – Finish the race (book review)


ERIC LIDDELL, FINISH THE RACE
By John Keddie
Christian Focus. 160 pages. £5.99
ISBN 978 1 845 505 905

Those of us familiar with the name Eric Liddell will immediately think of an Olympic athlete and the film Chariots of Fire. This book is a great way to introduce a new generation to one of Britain’s most famous Christian Olympians.

It’s a wonderful story. The reader cannot but be impressed with the humility, serenity and clear focused determination of a remarkably gifted athlete who sought to honour God in every aspect of his life. Eric’s eagerness to honour the Lord’s day meant that he changed his race to the 400 metres, winning first place and setting a new Olympic record.

Eric’s life after the Olympics is not so well known. Without wavering he left fame behind and went to China as a missionary. The challenges and dangers were many and life was tough. At every stage and in every aspect of his life Eric was determined to obey God’s will and to live a God-guided life.

This book is a must read, especially on the run up to the Olympics, and would be a great gift for anyone interested in sport (from teenagers up). It kept going missing in our house as everyone queued up to read it!

Lindsay Benn, 
conference speaker and bishop’s wife, Eastbourne

 

Vision for a caring future


Amid the troubling stories of faith-based fostering and adoption agencies being shut down by unfair sexual orientation laws, there is a possible light on the horizon.

Cornerstone is an independent fostering agency that is working towards registering as a full adoption agency. It will be the UK’s ‘only evangelical agency operating in the country’, according to Robin Singleton, Cornerstone’s chair of trustees.

From fostering to adoption
Some children in local authority care wait years for a family to offer a permanent home, if it happens at all. The problem is most pronounced for so-called ‘hard-to-place’ children who may have severe physical disabilities or behavioural difficulties. They may never find a permanent home, particularly if they are over ten years old, given the preference for families to adopt younger children.
Cornerstone is a Christian charity that wants to do something about this. Founded in 1999, it is registered as a fostering agency and specialises in finding carers who will offer a child a permanent home. Helping children to feel that they belong in a ‘safe place’ within a family enables them to look forward as well as backwards. They can learn in a natural way from adults and prepare for independence.
Cornerstone supports the carers through every stage of the fostering process and also works with the local authorities, who are ultimately responsible for the children. For these services, Cornerstone receives on-going payments for every child that is fostered.
All Cornerstone carers offer a child a ‘permanent home’. However, for many, the best way of securing a ‘forever’ family is adoption.
In recognition of this, Cornerstone has long hoped to become an adoption agency as well. In 2011 it decided to apply for registration.

Making application
The wheels are in motion, but the final application has not yet been submitted. One of the road blocks is that they need a registered adoption manager. Cornerstone are looking to fill this vacancy. If the application is successful, Cornerstone will need a new model of working. Once a child has been adopted by a family, the local authority stops paying fostering fees. So an adoption agency has to survive on one-off payments related to adoption services, plus the generosity of supporters.
Robin Singleton says: ‘This is a big step for us. But we believe it is the right one and we are appealing for donations to help us set up and run the adoption agency’.1 He adds that the application to become an adoption agency is particularly important because ‘almost all the existing faith-based adoption agencies have been forced to close or to become secular due to recent equality laws’.2

Evangelical basis
Fortunately, Cornerstone has received official acknowledgement that it can continue working according to its distinctive Christian ethos. Robin and the team are very grateful to the Christian solicitor who helped with the initial charity registration as well as to the Christian Institute for ongoing support.
From the start, Cornerstone’s governing documents included an evangelical basis of faith. All its trustees, staff and carers are required to sign its Doctrinal Basis and Code of Conduct. Under that Code, carers are required to have a personal lifestyle, conduct and practice consistent with the Basis.
Robin Singleton says: ‘We want to use the freedom that we have and we want to see Cornerstone expand. It is time for us, as an evangelical Christian agency, to take some bold steps’.3
As well as seeking to become a registered adoption agency, Cornerstone is also looking to increase the number of carers and potential adopters in its present areas of operation in the North East of England.
Further ahead, Cornerstone wants to provide a national helpline service that brings the charity’s expertise within easier reach of carers throughout the country. In addition it wants to replicate its current North Eastbased operation to other regions of the UK.
All this will take prayer, perseverance and financial support. Robin Singleton is thankful for the amazing progress so far, and is looking forward to more people becoming partners in this ministry of service to children and young people.
‘Children in need of fostering and adoption will benefit so much from a “forever” home with skilled and well-supported carers who allow them to work through their pain and difficulties’, he says. ‘With acceptance of their difficulties, they will feel tremendous security about not facing yet another rejection.’4 Robin Singleton concludes: ‘The Lord Jesus loved the children and so do we’.5
He encourages people to visit http://www.cornerstonenortheast.co.uk for more information and an opportunity to sign up to Cornerstone’s mailing list.

Facts on adoption
The Office of National Statistics says that in 2010 there were 4,472 court orders for adoption in England and Wales. This represents a decline of 12% compared with 2000.
Most adoptions are of children aged between one and four. In 2010 this age group accounted for 58% of all adoptions in England and Wales.
As children become older, they become ever less likely to find a family willing to adopt them. In 2010 children aged 10-14 accounted for 10% of adoptions and young people aged 15-17 accounted for 4% of adoptions.6

FOOTNOTES
1. Cornerstone News, Autumn 2011, page 4
2. Ibid
3. Adapted from Robin’s presentation 2, page 3
4. Adapted from http://www.cornerstonenortheast.co.uk/ForeverFamilies.htm
5. Ibid, page 4
6. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-referencetables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-225046 — Table 2b

The Bible and Our Daily Work: Male and Female in the Context of Work (Pt 3)


There are many pressures in contemporary Western society which work to confuse the distinctive roles of men and women. That would be acceptable if ‘male’ and ‘female’ were simply evolutionary accidents. But the Bible says that is not the case. God created the two genders, Matthew 19.4

MALE AND FEMALE IN THE CONTEXT OF WORK
Again the book of Genesis provides us with foundational principles.

•  The essential similarity and equality of man and woman
Man and woman possess an identical essence and equal humanity. Genesis 1.27 The last phrase of this verse specifically underlines that man and woman are equally made in the image of God.
Genesis 2.19-23 The juxtaposition of Adam’s categorizing the animals and the Lord bringing Adam and Eve together emphasises the qualitative difference between the animals on one hand and Adam and Eve on the other. Adam is not the same as the animals but he is the same as Eve.
Genesis 2.22 That Eve is made from Adam’s rib is significant. The Hebrew word can also mean ‘side.’ Eve is the ‘other side’ or the ‘other half’ of Adam.
We therefore need to beware of any tendencies to imprison women in their femininity to the detriment of their participating in what is simply human.

•  The different points of focus for the work of the man and the woman
Equally his image, God gave man and woman different roles and responsibilities in Eden.
The man glorified God through his working the ground, Genesis 2.5, 15 whereas the woman glorified God through being a helper for the man, Genesis 2.18.
The man was made out of the ground (the focus of his work), Genesis 2.7 whereas the woman was made from man (the focus of her task), Genesis 2.20-23.
The man was made and brought to the garden, Genesis 2.8, 15 whereas the woman was made and brought to her man, Genesis 2.22.
These two different points of focus for work, namely the ground for the man and the family for the woman, are assumed in God’s words to Adam and Eve after the Fall, Genesis 3.16, 17.
Notice that the word ‘helper’ does not imply any inferiority. In the OT the word is used 21 times, 15 of which refer to God being our helper.
Notice particularly that the male and female roles are not cultural in origin or merely pragmatic, but appointed by God.
The Biblical justification for interpreting the details of the Genesis account is seen from Paul’s remarks in 1 Corinthians 11.7-9; 1 Timothy 2.13-15; Titus 2.4 etc.

•  These principles are to be interpreted not restrictively but nevertheless responsibly
As we look through the OT we find that although the bearing and raising of children was central in the lives of Israelite women, and a much longed for achievement, they did much more than just that.
It would seem natural to interpret Eve being Adam’s helper as that part of what she did was to help him with his work in the garden, Genesis 2.18.
Sarah and other wives of the patriarchal period ran large households which included managing domestic servants, Genesis 16.16.
As Israel settled in the promised land and life took on an agricultural tone, women became involved in field work, Ruth 2.2, 3.
The woman described in Proverbs 31 is held up as something of an OT ideal. She is a woman of prodigious ability, with interests and activities which, although centred on her home, go well beyond the confines of her house, Proverbs 31.14, 16, 17.

In a world which has done much to undermine traditional family life with devastating consequences for society, married Christians must think carefully about how moving away from the traditional roles of man as bread-winner and woman as home-maker might affect our lives.

This series on ‘The Bible and Our Daily Work’ is taken from a sermon series given by Dr. John Benton at Chertsey Street Baptist Church in 2012.

Part 1 in the series is ‘Work and Creation
Part 2 in the series is ‘Work and the Fall
A related post ‘7 Tips on handling stress in the work place’ can be found here.

How to explain the ‘God Particle’ … and a few other bits!


Enjoy the following links!

Gospel Coalition – How to leave your old church

The Good Book Company – What’s this ‘God Particle’ anyway?

A Faith to live by – How the Gospel overcomes your fear of giving generously

Desiring God – Teach your children the Bible is not about them

Tim Challies – in his ‘Reading Classics Together’ series he addresses ‘Making our requests known to God’ from the book ‘The Hidden Life Of Prayer’ by David McIntyre

Prayer fuel: News from around the world


Here are a handful of news-bites from around the world included in the August issue of EN. May these encourage us as well as spur us on to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world facing severe persecution.

China: released
Chinese authorities released a woman facing a forced abortion in the northern province of Hunan on June 10, after human rights activists and at least one US official called for her freedom.
Cao Ruyi still faces outrageous fines for violating China’s one-child policy and said that she and her husband can’t afford to pay a ‘social burden compensation fee’ that exceeds £16,000. She fears that authorities may return and attempt a forced abortion again. The exorbitant fine highlights China’s ruthless tactics to maintain population control by pressuring women to abort their unborn children or bankrupt their families. Religion Today

Eritrea: resolution
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on July 6 adopted its first resolution on Eritrea, approving the mandate for a Special Rapporteur who will report to the HRC and the UN General Assembly on the human rights situation in Eritrea.
The groundbreaking resolution, submitted by Somalia, Nigeria and Djibouti and supported by a number of African and other states, was adopted by consensus at the 20th session of the HRC. Significantly, this is the first time that African states have spearheaded a resolution on another African state. Christian Solidarity Worldwide

USA: Bible sentence
In June, Circuit Court Judge Michael Nettles of Rock Hill sentenced Cassandra Tolley (28) to eight years in prison for drunk driving, followed by five years’ probation and substance abuse counselling, adding the assignment of reading through and writing a summary of the Book of Job.
Tolley seriously injured two people while driving on the wrong side of the road in November 2011. She professed her Christianity when she pleaded guilty and was reported to be grateful for the ruling. Tolley turned to alcohol after years of abuse by a relative. Aged 11, a relative doused her with gasoline and set her on fire on Thanksgiving Day. Religion Today / The Blaze

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