Sunday, February 25, 2007

Book Club: 22nd February 2007 - Mary: Blessed Among Women

This fortnight in the book club we were discussing chapter 6: Mary: Mother of God

Mary Worship: Mary is different to the other women we have discussed so far because JM had to deal with Mary worship which is so prevalent today, given that Catholicism is the largest religion in the world. Because of the need to dispel the myths and inaccuracy surrounding her he spent a good deal of the chapter talking about the errors of Mary worship and the Catholic view of her. Which meant we didn’t get as in-depth a look at Mary as we have of the other women, which was a little disappointing.

Mary’s knowledge of scripture: We noted how full of scripture Mary’s prayer was (pg 115 – 119). Mary apparently new the scriptures very well, despite being very young.

We also saw that Mary seemed so calm about the announcement that she was going to be the mother of the Son of God. Especially given the circumstances and the culture in which she lived. Being an unwed women, in a time when adulterers and fornicators could be stoned. Was it because of her knowledge of the scriptures and the prophesied Messiah?

We also wondered at how much Mary actually grasped when she stood watching her son dieing at the crucifixion. She must have felt the fulfilment of Simeon’s words ‘yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also’… Luke 2:35.

Christ; God and Man: It is difficult for us to comprehend the truth of Christ being truly God and Man, even with the benefit of the scriptures. It must have been a difficult thing for Mary too. How do you keep sight of him being God when your making his bed, changing his nappy (or whatever they did back then), feeding him, and teaching him how to be a person?

Sometimes it is easy to loose sight as Christ as a real man, but it is good to be reminded. Luke is a great read, to remind us of Christ’s life.

The perfect Son: Jesus provided for his mothers future, even as he was dying on the cross John 19:25-27. It was suggested that some believe that Jesus may have given her to John’s care rather than his brothers because they were unbelievers. However by pentacost it appears they were believers. If this was the case maybe the events of the crucifixion and resurrection confirmed to them all that he had said when they were growing up with him?

These are just a few of our thoughts on the chapter, please share yours with us…

Friday, February 16, 2007

What are we reading next?

Well, we're now half way through 12 Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur,
so its time to look at what we'll be reading next so that you can get hold of the book.

I ordered my copy of these
two books before Christmas
and didn't get them till the
beginning of February as they were not in stock, so it may be worthwhile checking your book store for availability now.

Next we'll be reading Luther and his Katie by Dolina Cuish. The description says:

"The Influence of Luther's wife on his ministry
Every churchgoer knows about Martin Luther, the rumbustuous leader of the Reformation, but few realise the influence that his wife had on his ministry.

Early in his personal reformation Luther became convinced that there was no reason why parish priests should not marry, if they preferred it, but he did not feel inclined to break his clerical oath himself.

That was until he met Catherine von Bora. Catherine was the Leaer of a daring breakout from a convent reserved for nuns of noble birth. At first Luther was a little afraid of her but they married two years later on the 13th of June 1525.

She prolonged Luther's life by protecting him from the reckless overwork to which he subjected himself. She made the garden of the unfinished Augustinian convent that was their home, profitable - keeping pigs, cows and chickens. She took over three other gardens and planted fruit trees and started small scale farming.

She made the home a haven of rest for the storm tossed man that was her husband. Luther once said, 'Next to God's Word, the world has not more presious treasure than holy matrmony. God's best gift is a pious, cheerful, God-fearing, wife, with whom you may live peacefully, to whom you may entrust your goods, your body and life.'"

Friday, February 09, 2007

Book Club: 8th February 2007 - Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace

This week we had our first book club meeting for 2007. We discussed chapter 5, Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace. A few of the things that we discussed were:

• Hannah’s difficult trial. It must be a difficult thing to share your husband with another man. Can you imagine the kind of nastiness that could go on between to women fighting to win the affection of the same man? We know how horrible women can be to each other over petty things, let alone the love of a man. Samuel says it was a great trial to Hannah. ‘And her rival provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb’ 1 Samuel 1:6-7. So much so that she didn’t eat. You know that feeling of being so upset about somthing that it makes you sick to the stomach. It is clear that Elkanah loved Hannah dearly. JM suggests on page 94 that he took his second wife because of Hannah’s Barrenness. If this was the case it must have made her trial even more bitter. This would also have been a difficult thing for Peninnah; not winning Elkanah’s love despite bearing him children. I was reminded of the rivalry between Rachel and Leah.

• Motherhood the highest calling. ‘Motherhood the highest calling any woman could ever be summoned to.’ Page 93. We are reminded that we need to be thankful that God has given us the gift of children. Conceiving is often very difficult for many women who long to be a mother. Even in our day and age where intervention is available, if our principals allow it. For those of us who have children it is often easy to forget what a privilege we have been given. We should never take motherhood for granted, and should be thankful always that God has given us children.

In today’s world we are often made to feel that being a mum at home is not as important as going out to work or having a ‘career’, but nothing could be further from the truth. As JM puts it ‘She [Hannah] is a reminder that mothers are the makers of men and the architects of the next generation’. Page 94.

• Our example ‘What you communicate to your children through your marital relationship will stay with them for the rest of their lives.’ Page 95. It is important to remember that little eyes and ears are always watching, listening and learning, and the way we interact with our husbands is teaching them some of the most fundamental lessons of life. A sobering thought.

• Hannah trusted God and was faithful. Given Eli’s record as a father and a priest, it must have been a very difficult thing to leave a toddler in his care. It shows how much she trusted the Lord. I cannot imagine parting with my children, or willingly giving them into someone else’s care, especially someone who had himself produced wicked sons. Despite the difficulty of such a decision, Hannah was faithful concerning her vow.

• Hannah left her troubles with the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:18 says that once Hannah had poured her heart out to God, she went away and ate and was no longer sad. Despite the sorrow of her prayers, she was able to leave it in Gods hands. How many of us do this? Do we really leave it with the lord, or do we take it away with us? ‘Hannah truly laid her troubles in the lap of the Lord, totally confident that He would answer her in accord for what was best for her. There’s real humility in that kind of faith, as the apostle Peter noted: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7) Page 100

• Teaching our children while they're young. We talked about John Newton. During a terrible time in his life he was able to recall the scriptures his mother had taught him, despite her dying when he was very young. It is good thing to teach our children about the Lord when they are young and help them to memorise scripture. They seem to retain much more than we think they are able, and there are many instances of people recalling the scriptures they were taught whilst young, during the darkest trials of their life.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this chapter...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Welcome Back

Welcome back to the book club!

I hope you all had a lovely break over Christmas and New Year, and are now ready to join in the book club again. This week we will be having our first meeting for 2007 on Thursday the 8th.

We will be starting where we left off, reading chapter 5 of 12 Extraordinary Women, which is 'Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace'.

I will be posting notes once a fortnight on Friday and I look forward to hearing all of your thoughts as we read together.

Happy reading!