Another legend tells of the Pictish king Angus fighting against the English in the eighth or nineth century. It is said that he looked up into the sky and saw a Saltire in the clouds. As tradition tells us that Andrew was martyred on a diagonal cross, King Angus saw this as a sign that Andrew was protecting them and then resolved to make him Scotland's patron saint if the battle was won.
Andrew's position as patron saint was confirmed in 1320 in the Declaration of Arbroath, the declaration of Scottish independence after the Scots were lead to victory over the English by Robert the Bruce:
The high qualities and deserts of these people, were they not otherwise manifest, gain glory enough from this: that the King of kings and Lord of lords, our Lord Jesus Christ, after His Passion and Resurrection, called them, even though settled in the uttermost parts of the earth, almost the first to His most holy faith. Nor would he have them confirmed in that faith by merely anyone but by the first of His Apostles - by calling, though second or third in rank - the most gentle Saint Andrew, the Blessed Peter's brother, and desired him to keep them under his protection as their patron forever...The Most Holy Fathers your predecessors gave careful heed to these things and bestowed many favours and numerous privileges on this same kingdom and people, as being the special charge of the Blessed Peter's brother.
Other than a few sentences, there is little else said about Andrew throughout the Bible. Tradition teaches that after the resurrection, he went to Greece and Asia Minor to share the Gospel. Perhaps then it is in the little that is recorded that we see his most important action.
Andrew, after only a little time with Jesus, recognised him for who he was and went home to share this truth with his brother so that he could also know Jesus. Andrew must have been listening to the teaching of John the Baptist, eagerly expecting the Messiah to come, and was ready to recognise Jesus when he began his ministry. His example is a reminder to us to share our faith and knowledge of God freely with others. In Andrew's case, he brought Simon Peter to Christ, with Peter becoming one of Jesus' closest disciples and the main disciple to the Jewish people. Andrew's initial influence should not be forgotten as we praise God for all that Peter did.
Window depicting St Andrew, Monimail Parish Church, Fife.
(Crown Copyright: RCAHMS, www.rcahms.gov.uk)
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
What an interesting question! Where do I need to go this year? Who do I need to catch up with? Where do I need to be? I haven't managed to come up with an answer but it has made me think.
I used to go on mission trips every summer, but now it is so difficult to get away for anything longer than a week with work. Ah, work does interfere with my social life! Perhaps I need to be organised with things for this summer to try to get back out there. Even though I am officially 'working', I find the concentrated Christian fellowship so refreshing. Of course, the sunshine and the good food doesn't hurt either!
This has also reminded me about all the people whom I need to visit. There are friends and family I need to see - letters, emails and phone calls are great, but it is not the same as seeing someone face-to-face and sharing with them.
Balanced against all of this is again the uncertainity of work after August. I have always planned to spend some time working abroad, so maybe this would be the time to do it. I'm conscious that many of my older friends and colleagues also planned to do medical mission work abroad before getting caught up in work, marriage and family and never doing it after all. I know that it is possible to do this after marriage and with children, but it is more difficult, so maybe I should embrace this season of life and crack on with it.
[The LORD your God] went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.
Carolyn McCulley pointed out some articles from the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood on her blog, Solo Femininity. I was most amused reading Homemaking Internship by Carolyn Mahaney that I just had to share it with others. It was this first extract that got me, but I definitely recommend reading the whole article.
Imagine preparing your whole life for a career in medicine. In high school you volunteer at the local hospital and spend your evenings reading medical journals. You make the honor roll and head off to a prestigious medical school. After eight years of only study and no social life, you finally graduate. Then you spend two, maybe three years in your chosen field—not even enough time to pay off the school loans.I've done all of that. I studied hard and worked hard, often to the expense of other things. Just yesterday I reached one of the pinnacles of my career and spent today getting congratulatory hugs and handshakes from friends and senior colleagues. I am now in their elite club - I am now one of them! But I have found myself still unsatisfied. I have devoted myself to medicine only to discover I want "to enter an entirely different field for which we never prepared".
But the more you practice medicine, the less you enjoy it. Suddenly you realize the truth. Your real calling is to be a teacher. You want to work with kids, small ones. So now with a mostly useless set of skills (at least you would know how to do the Heimlich maneuver if a kid choked on his hot dog in the school cafeteria), you want to enroll again at the university and study to be a teacher. But you can’t. Your time and money have run out.
You can’t afford to give six more years of your life to study, and you certainly can’t afford the extra school debt. The years and the funds allotted for career preparation have already been spent on another profession. You have to accept the reality that you didn’t graduate with the right degree to teach.
All too often we stumble onto homemaking the way this student stumbled onto teaching. We devote ourselves to studying for a particular career, but suddenly discover we want to enter an entirely different field for which we never prepared. Surprise! We find ourselves engaged to be married but without a degree in homemaking.
It's an interesting article about how to practically prepare OUR daughters for homemaking, yet it doesn't address the issue of how to prepare if you are not from a home where a Biblical view of the family and of the home was taken. I know that it is only now that I am learning about running a home and raising a Christian family, having never stood at my mother's knee while she roasted a chicken (I still need to learn how to carve it) or never having had family worship. Some of what I do in my work now will help, such as the "transferable skills" of organisation, time management, conflict resolution, and caring for others. I have been so blessed to have older women in the church mentor me and teach me some of these wifely skills. Of course these skills are not only to be learnt for marriage but, as Carolyn Mahaney says, to "honor God by expressing your femininity today".
My young friends, let it be your constant aim, and at the same time your earnest prayer, that you may first of all thoroughly understand your mission, and then diligently prepare for it, and hereafter as successfully fulfill it.
John Angell James, English pastor (1785-1859)
Well, it turns out that I didn't know for tonight I received the happy news that I passed my exam and am now a Member of the Royal College of Physicians. I am so shocked and can't stop giggling every time I think about it!
Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Most of all, thanks to God who is our strength and the greatest physician of all! May all the glory be to him!
Oh, there are so many areas that need work! I have found going through these questions such a helpful discipline though. It has made me consider areas of my life that I had almost forgotten about and made me re-evaluate things in light of God and who I am in him.
I have come up with plenty of things to do in my desire to grow, not because if I do these things, I will achieve a higher spiritual plane and be more acceptable to God, but because of my desire to know God more and to reflect him more. Having the accountability here means that I can look back clearly at what I said had to be done, whether I did it, and whether I have learnt anything and grown from it.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Robert Murray McCheyne, Scottish minister and evangelist (1813-1843)
The day is designed to encourage people to shop less and spend more time with their family, along with reinforcing the very serious message that we, in developing countries, are consuming a disproportionate amount of resources. This in turn deprives the developing world of these resources and causes environmental damage.
I've been trying to make some changes in my shopping habits. I try to 'buy British' and take note of where my food comes from. We need to be aware of how far it has flown to get to the supermarket. How much did those people get paid? Where they paid fairly? What are their working conditions? I am also looking at how much packaging comes with my shopping and trying to reduce that. When I have stopped living in two cities and have settled down a bit, I am quite keen to start getting deliveries of vegetables from local farmers to cut down on both of these. I also need to work on my recycling much more than I actually do.
If you have any other suggestions or are going to try to "Buy Nothing" on Friday or Saturday, let me know!
The heavens are the LORD's heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
I think I answered this in the second Consider Your Ways question: What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
I continue to pray for my future life, whatever it might hold. The uncertainity of everything is difficult, as I consider my future career choices. The way that doctors are trained is changing here in the UK, but not for better for those of us who want any work-life balance! Motivation on the back of this is difficult when I know that this is not really what I want for my future. I continue to try to take each and every day as it comes, facing its own challenges and delights, knowing that everything is in God's hands.
I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
(If you are going to read the article, be aware that there is language used and topics discussed that may offend. I originally found his comments at the BBC website which has an article on the interview. I personally prefer to get back to primary sources if at all possible to avoid spin, misrepresentation and bias, which is why I have read his actual interview before making comment on it.)
In the same article as Sir Elton talks about his plans to "promote peace" and integration, he says:
From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it. I love the idea of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the beautiful stories about it, which I loved in Sunday school and I collected all the little stickers and put them in my book. But the reality is that organised religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.I suppose we should not be shocked by his statements. More and more, society is embracing secularism and a skewed view of tolerance. 'It's only tolerant if your beliefs are the same as ours. Religion is not tolerant, so let's ban it.' Society only believes in freedom of speech if these views are not too far from societal norm. Thankfully, we are guaranteed freedom of religious expression and freedom of assembly by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Sir Elton seems to be picking and choosing which of the "beautiful stories" about Jesus he listens to. Jesus does not strike me as a 'tolerant' kind of chap who only wanted to share "beautiful stories".
C S Lewis wrote about this attitude more eloquently than I ever could in Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
1 John 5:20
Matthew Henry, English minster (1662-1714)
Aargh! There are so many things. I hope you don't mind if I share them all with you all. I think it is important though that we confess our sins to one another so that we can be accountable to others in our repentance. I have a couple of close friends with whom I can share everything - their rebuke, encouragement, challenge and guidance is so important to me. I hope that people reading this have people in their life who can do this for them. I suppose it is a further example of the Titus 2 relationship between younger and older women.
As for doing something about it, I am trying day by day to turn away from sin and to set my eyes on Jesus and his teachings and example. I hope that I can show here that I am looking purposefully at what and where I need to change. I look forward to seeing what God has done in my life and how he has worked in me, until that day in glory, when we are made perfect in Christ.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
James Hudson Taylor, English missionary to China and founder of China Inland Mission (1832-1905)
In the fourth chapter, Debbie Maken makes the point that there is a lack of male leadership in family, schools, society and the church. Men are told to "Have fun, live for the moment, don't answer to anyone, and always leave your options open." Men are being supported in "second childhoods" and as "perennial students", with all that that lifestyle entails.
As a young successful professional woman, often I feel this success is blamed for my singleness. It is perceived as a bad thing to be female, successful and financially self-sufficient. Maken says that "in Western culture, we often equate a woman's lack of economic need to be married to a desire of not wanting to be married."
Why has this changed in little over a generation? She blames "an education system that allows and promotes indefinite leadership, a lack of leadership in the home, and a lack of leadership within the church."
I have to agree with her. But what can be done about it? The church needs to take a more active role in teaching the Biblical view of manhood, womanhood and the family. Parents need to look to Scripture for guidance and teaching on biblical roles, and then to demonstrate them in their own family and to teach them to their children. I'm not sure what can be done about the schooling system, where are certainly problems with teaching male leadership in schools, which has caused an inappropriate expression of manhood through aggression. After a conversation with a friend who plans on homeschooling his children, I am perhaps (to my surprise) moving towards that idea. This is however a subject for another day!
For I have chosen [Abraham], that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him."
I think I have managed to deal with this one already thanks to Katrina's Fall into Reading challenge. I haven't progressed very far though so I will need to get cracking... I'm finding the accountability very helpful though, so I will have to reconsider this question in the New Year once this challenge is over. I have found an interesting site from Christianity Today that I might use to help me pick next year's books: The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals
Be as careful of the books you read as of the company you keep, for your habits and character will be as much influenced by the former as the latter.
Edwin Paxton Hood, English clergyman (1820-1885)
Socks - Jessie Pope (1915)
Shining pins that dart and click
In the fireside's sheltered peace
Check the thoughts that cluster thick
20 plain and then decrease.
He was brave - well, so was I
Keen and merry, but his lip
Quivered when he said good-bye
Purl the seam-stitch, purl and slip.
Never used to living rough,
Lots of things he'd got to learn;
Wonder if he's warm enough
Knit 2, catch 2, knit 1, turn.
Hark! The paper-boys again!
Wish that shout could be suppressed;
Keeps one always on the strain
Knit off 9, and slip the rest.
Wonder if he's fighting now,
What he's done an' where he's been;
He'll come out on top, somehow
Slip 1, knit 2, purl 14.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
All women can be homemakers no matter what their current work situation is. However, creating a welcoming home for our families and communities does take time and effort. This means that it is reasonable to conclude that at some times in our lives, particularly when there are young children at home, it will be necessary to cut back on paid work in order to fulfill this calling.I completely agree with her. I have long said that should I get married, I would want to stay at home with the children. However, this started another train of thought...
I have such a busy job and spend a lot of time at work. Now I did know that life was going to be like this when I decided that I wanted to be a doctor and I can't claim to have been pulled in unawares! With all its demands though, it is so hard to keep my house on top of work commitments, never mind added to my church work, friends, family, and recreation. I do love my work - I find it fascinating and fulfilling - but my priorities have changed.
I really don't think that my job (as it stands at the moment) could not be compatible with a happy marriage. I could "have it all" - get married, have children, work full-time, get a cleaner to do the housework, put the children to daycare. I have plenty of friends and colleagues who do this, but that's not the wife, the mother or the doctor I wish to be. So it brings me to a conclusion that surprised me: if, God willing, I get married, should I give up my job and be a full-time homemaker to and for my husband, even before having children?
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."
I don't have any children or grandchildren yet, but I very much hope that I will have some in the future! I thought for a little while that I could get away with not answering this question, but I do think that it is something that I should be thinking about, even if there is nothing explicitly to do with children right now.
I am going to find a beautiful notebook then start making a concerted effort to write down some of my prayers. In months and years to come, I will be able to look back and see how God has answered these prayers. While I know that every prayer is answered in some way, even if it is not the way I would have liked, I would like to look back and remember what I prayed for and how God worked. Hopefully, I will then be able to share the story of God's mercy, grace and guidance in my life to my children and grandchildren.
Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children - how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, 'Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.'
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For every sin on Him was laid,
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious Day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me.
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
Words: Stuart Townend, Music: Keith Getty
© 2001 Kingsway/Thankyou Music
- The roof over my head, protecting me from the rain as I write
- Double glazing protecting me from the wind and rain
- The computer that I'm writing on right now
- Warmth from the central heating
- An abundance of food in the kitchen
- Clean fresh drinking water
- Hot water on tap
- That I am on my side of the doctor's desk rather than being a patient
- The joy of treating someone and making them better
- The honour of sharing in people's lives through joys and struggles
- Having a job to go to every day
- Having a job that I love
- Christian senior and junior colleagues
- A Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church
- God's mercy in bringing me to faith while attending a liberal church where the minister did not believe the Bible!
- The family of believers
- Friends in the real world
- Friends in the blogging world
- Having my own Bible
- Owning several Bibles in different translations when millions in the world do not even have the Gospels in their own language
- A wonderful Bible study group of godly young women wanting to pursue womanhood the way God intended
- Being able to meet freely in church and in our homes for Bible study, prayer and fellowship
- Godly older women willing to mentor and encourage me
- The gift of singing
- Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with which to praise and worship God
- Literacy to read the Bible and other good books
- My little sister and for the close friendship we have developed over the last year after many years of bickering
- My other little sister who has fallen away right now but who, I believe, is a Christian
- My little brother who still gives me hugs and kisses even at the age of 13!
- My dad who has done so much for me and who has made my mum so happy
- My mum for bringing me up in a difficult situation and for the real friendship we share
- The experience of growing up in an non-Christian family
- God's grace in bringing both of my parents to him through the preaching of a godly minster
- The joy of now sharing in Christian fellowship with my parents
- The time to sit and think about these things
- The pre-school Sunday school and all their enthusiasm and questions
- Email and the Internet so I can keep in touch with friends all over the world
- The hospitality of a wonderful woman in welcoming me into her family home
- The safe delivery of a new baby today after my friend's sister had a 55 hour labour
- The death of a dear saint this morning, knowing that she is now in glory with Christ
- Music and the skill of musicians
- Cameras to capture moments of life forever
I am going to have to think about this more purposefully because I am sitting here trying to think what to do. I should pray for him and his family. I should pray for his own spiritual growth, his preaching and his ministry. I am doing that already, although I should be doing it a lot more.
So what is that "one new way" that I could be a blessing? I'd appreciate any thoughts if you had any from how you or others bless your pastor.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching.
Brother Lawrence, lay brother in Carmelite monastery and author of "The Practice of the Presence of God" (c.1605-1691)
Work is so busy, but I hate when I get to the end of the day and realise that I was too busy to think of God. Again and again, I am reminded of the Lord's gentle yet firm words to Martha in Luke 10.
I need to try to come back to the Lord's feet throughout the day, almost to realign myself with God, to remind myself where my motivation comes from and to whose glory I do this. In one article from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity I've read about living out a Christian faith in the workplace, this is described as "'on-the-run-spirituality', a rhythm of work that keeps us alert to God in our work."
Connecting with God in the Fast Lane by John Parminter reminds us that we cannot survive in our strength, but that we know a God who came as a man and understands our experiences and in whom is found immeasurable power and blessings.
Parminter offers some simple approaches that could easily be incorporated into dashing around work to 'practise the presence of God.'
- Seeing waiting at the photocopier or the printer as a rest or stolen moment for prayer
- Hiding out in the loo before a meeting to pray for it (not much chance of getting bothered there!)
- Delaying answering the phone for one ring to pray for the phone call
- Using doorways as a reminder of Jesus' presence in the next meeting or consultation
- Having a small scripture verse as a screensaver
But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her."
Robert Murray McCheyne, Scottish minister and evangelist (1813-1843)
"Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell
A friend gave this to me as a birthday present and told me she had loved it. It has been sitting on my book shelf for months however, so hopefully this will be the impetus to read it. I hope it is worth it!
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J R R Tolkien
Of course I have read this before - it is an absolute classic and if you haven't read it, you should! I just found it while wandering around my house looking at bookshelves and realised that I hadn't read this since I saw the Lord of the Rings films years ago.
"Taken by Communion" by Dan Schmidt
This was in the Bargain Basement of my local Christian bookstore. I haven't read it yet, so I am not sure if that was for good reason or not! The blurb on the back says that Schmidt "offers a refreshing perspective on the Lord's Supper...Discover what happens when you are taken by communions - when the one who longs to love us draws hear." I'll let you know how I get on.
"The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Currently this just sits on the bookshelf looking impressive. I really should get round to reading it.
"The Rich Single Life" by Andrew Farmer
This has been sitting in my Favourites column of my web browser (it's an online book) since the beginning of August! Eek!