Monday, May 31, 2010

One-to-one: Chapter 6

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 6 - Making Conversations Count

Having dealt more than adequately with how we should prepare to read the bible with someone and what our time together could look like, De Witt now turns her attention to the conversations we have with them. She looks at 5 types of conversations we may have.

1. Gospel conversation:

It is probably fair to say that these times of 'quality catch-up' are the lifeblood of a well-functioning church, where individual members are taking seriously the command to 'love one another' by taking time out for other members of the church family ... We should never underestimate the needs in an average church for encouraging and supportive input, however outwardly confident people seem. (p130)
To have helpful conversations we need to be able to ask questions sensitively, and respond appropriately ensuring we have been listening.

2. Encouragement - for those who are struggling with circumstances, encouragement and comfort may be what we provide.

3. Sometimes it will be appropriate to rebuke someone and a tactfully given gentle word would be the first step that we would undertake. For those who are already aware of their sin or error, rebuke may not be necessary, but rather a pointing to the extent of God's grace.

4. Correction can be required when we encounter false doctrine. The basis for any such correction must always be the bible, and as such we must ensure we are also growing in our knowledge and understanding of God's word.

5. Finally, there may be times where we may need to challenge someone, perhaps to consider more involvement in a ministry area.

Then, she goes on to list some passages that are useful for specific issues, including depression, fear, forgiveness, guidance, and worry.

Things to think about*:
  • Would someone listening in on your conversations with others think they were conversations that counted for eternity?
  • If you already meet one-to-one with someone, what type of conversation do you think they need at the moment?
  • Which type of conversation should someone be having with you?

(* These are all adapted from the study questions in the book)

Next Week: Chapter 7 - Other considerations

Monday, May 24, 2010

One-to-one: Chapter 5

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 5 - Meeting Regularly to Study the Bible: When You Meet

There is a lot of useful practical material in this chapter, so I will just give you some of the headings and summarise a few points along the way.

1. The practicalities - where to meet (usually a quiet place, but if you have nowhere quiet - meet wherever you can), how long to meet for (women usually meet for longer than men), make sure the bible study time doesn’t keep getting eroded by chatting time.

2. Leading the bible study
  • set the right tone - relaxed and informal
  • respond to answers - wait for the person to think and respond, don’t jump in
  • encourage them to use their bible, looking it up to see the answer
  • be wise when dealing with ‘red herrings’ - issues that are off topic - sometimes they need to be answered straight away, sometimes they don’t
  • pray together - help draw ideas together at the end, sharing prayer points, helping encourage people to pray
You can also consider whether to ask your one-to-one partner to do some preparation before the next study. Often people can find some time in the week, and many will willingly do some extra reading in advance.

There are also couple of helpful pages by Rico Tice which cover his advice on meeting one-to-one with non-Christians.

3. Other issues to address - she suggests that over the course of a year or so, it’s good to also cover some key doctrines and certain lifestyle issues that may not come up in passages you are studying. This helps us to be grounded in our faith and to live it out more thoroughly. Some of these may be:
  • doctrine - assurance, predestination, Jesus’ return, the Holy Spirit, biblical manhood and womanhood, prayer, the church, etc.
  • lifestyle issues - evangelism, sex & relationships, family, money, career, prayer life, etc. She also covers some helpful pointers when covering ‘issues’ - how we need to be willing to let people fail, to support them, to speak to truth in love & to watch our motives.
4. Training - one-to-one ministry is a great way to train people in handling the bible themselves, personal evangelism, in one-to-one ministry & in training bible teachers.

Some things to think about:
  • If you meet with someone one-to-one - do you tend towards studying bible passages or doctrine/issues? Do you need to change the focus a little?
  • If you don’t meet with someone one-to-one - why not draft a bible study for a one-to-one meeting and ask a friend or mentor if you can lead it for the two of you? If you are scared of meeting with someone one-to-one this may be a helpful first step.

Next week: Chapter 6 - Making Conversations Count

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blog on break...

As many who know me would be unsurprised to discover, I have somewhat over-committed myself this term.

With a seminar to do this Saturday and 4 talks to give in June, I feel like my energies need to be put elsewhere.

Therefore, there is going to be a break here at musings until July.*

I'll come back with a series taken from my seminar (Raising kids with God at the centre), some thoughts about the attributes of God that I am thinking through, more Calvin Club, more book reviews, and whatever else comes up.

See you then!

* of course the occasional post may appear - we'll see!

One-to-one: Chapter 4

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 4 - Meeting Regularly to Study the Bible: Before You Meet

De Witt starts the chapter covering some basic practical matters:
  • how you ask someone to meet with you
  • how their spouse may feel about it (if they are married)
  • how often to meet (weekly or fortnightly)
  • how long to meet for (maybe 6 months to start and then re-assess)
  • what to study (eg. book of the bible, a Christian theme using various bible passages, or a Christian book on a bible theme)

She makes the point that studying the bible directly (without a guide) should be the norm. If we look at themes, we can inadvertently turn towards our hobby horses rather than searching the Scriptures. Similarly, looking a Christian book should be done so that it can turn you back to the bible.

I must say I found this point helpful to think through. I meet in a triplet of wives to support each other, and we have gone through a book last year and this year. This challenged me that our next thing, and perhaps our priority from now on, should be looking at the bible together.

The rest of the chapter covers how to actually prepare a bible study that you would do with someone when you meet one-to-one. She starts from the beginning, assuming no real knowledge of how to prepare a study - this is very helpful. There is no way we could accuse her of encouraging us to read the bible one-to-one with someone, but not providing us with the tools to do so.

Her suggestion is that for a non-Christian, you should start with Mark’s gospel. This is what my husband has been doing for years when he meets up with non-Christians on uni campuses. It’s what I have started to do this year also. Both he and I can testify to how much we learn each time we do it, let alone how exciting it is to read it with someone else.

She also gives suggestions for after that, perhaps Colossians or 1 Peter, and the outline of a brief ‘course’ of foundation of faith. A lot of these ideas are expanded in Chapter 8 (Resources) where she has provided some sample bible studies.

Then she deals with the details of writing a bible study - trying to get understand the overall point of the passage, observation (what the passage says), interpretation (what the passage means), application (what the passage means to me) and then putting all this into a bible study format (questions).

It was at this point that I thought this book would also be of great benefit to bible study group leaders. In fact, I wonder if the best form of training for potential bible study group leaders is to ask that they start a bible study with one person - a one-to-one relationship.

To think about:
  • If you already meet with someone one-to-one, do you think you put enough emphasis on bible study - both as the focus of what you do together, and with the amount of time you give to preparation before the meeting?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Mom Song (by Go Fish)

I found this via the girltalk website - a great, fun song about Mums (or Moms!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Scripture must be confirmed by the witness of the spirit. Thus may it's authority be established as certain; and it is a wicked falsehood that its credibility depends on the judgment of the church
(now that's a mouthful!)

Calvin now starts to address some of the problems of his time with regard to the view of Scripture and its authority - namely whether scripture can stand alone or it needs to be authorised by the church.

He affirms that:
the Scriptures obtain full authority among believers only when men regard them as having sprung from heaven, as if there the living words of God were heard. (Ch 7, pt 1, p74)
He then addresses the false assertion that the church has to approve the scriptures and rather shows that the church itself is grounded in scripture. This includes a discussion of Augustine and his views on the matter, in which Calvin claims Augustine has been misrepresented. I'll leave the details of that to the keener readers!

In the end, says Calvin, it is the Holy Spirit which convinces us of the authority of scripture.
the testimony of the Spirit is more excellent that all reason. For as God alone is a fit witness of himself in his Word, so also the Word will not find acceptance in men's hearts before it is sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who has spoken through the mouths of the prophets must penetrate into our hearts to persuade us that they faithfully proclaimed what had been divinely commanded. (Ch 7, pt 4, p79)
So, scripture is self-authenticated by it's author, who speaks to us through it and enables us to accept it. Do other Calvin Club readers think therefore: this is a fact that is of comfort to believers, that we can trust the words of God, because they are the words of God; but perhaps, a not entirely convincing argument for the unbeliever? What do you think?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Gospel-Centred Family

Book Review
Gospel-Centred Family: becoming the parents God wants you to be,
Ed Moll and Tim Chester

I did a review on this book at church yesterday, so I thought I might as well include my thoughts here also!


I really liked this book. It’s not your standard parenting book which talks about how to raise well-rounded & well-behaved children. Rather, it takes us one-step further and challenges us to think about how being Christian changes our parenting, our goals for our children and our priorities as a family.

Here are 5 things I liked:

1. It challenges us as parents to think about how the gospel shapes our parenting. We should have gospel aims and gospel hopes. More than wanting our children to be being well-rounded, successful and competent, we should desire for our children to know God and serve him.

2. It addresses the need for discipline – but emphasises that parents need it as much as children do. It was helpful to be challenged where I might need more discipline as a parent – perhaps in patience or self-control, or not just wanting the kids to be well-behaved because I would like a quieter or easier life.

As well as dealing with discipline, it also strongly emphasises the need for grace as well.
- grace for parents which allows us to trust God in all things and let go of the guilt that we feel as parents when we fail (or think we have failed)
- & grace for children – that they know they are always loved and accepted by us (& God), no matter what they do, just like has God loved and accepted us through Jesus.

3. They remind us to enjoy our kids - making sure we consider them a gift. Give them time, play together, create fun memories together, do fun things on holidays, make things together, do hobbies together. It was a helpful reminder not to get so caught up in ‘parenting’ and ‘the busyness of life’ that we forget to actually enjoy them.

4. It encouraged me to consider how we make God’s word central in our family life. They say, “don’t underestimate the power of the word lived and the word loved” (p64). There are also helpful tips in here for managing what younger children watch on TV and how to teach older children to evaluate what they watch.

5. Finally, there was a whole section on being a family that is mission-centred. To be a family that serves and loves others, both those who are local and those who are far away. In of all this, children are learning to serve, and also that they are not the centre of the world.

Even with all of that, it’s still a small, short book. Each chapter is only about 5 pages, and is very easy to read. Each has a bible passage to think about, some pointers about how the bible instructs us on that matter and then some practical suggestions for how to do it.

With this easy format, you could read it on your own (like I did), you could read it as a couple and then discuss it; or you could even read it together as part of a bible study group or mother’s group.

It’s a great starting point for thinking about how your family are going with keeping the gospel and God’s word at the centre of your family.


Nicole has also been blogging about this book in a series of posts, you can look at them here.

One-to-one: Chapter 3

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 3 – What’s Involved

So, we have decided meeting one-to-one is a good thing to do. What then, should we do? De Witt believes meeting together should have 3 elements:

1. Prayer
As it is God’s work to bring people to new life in Christ it is also His work to continue that work until the last day.
we need to be crying out to God to be establishing and growing his children according to his good will. We must be utterly dependent on him to work his perfect will in people’s lives, rather than depending on our methods or commitment to change people in a lasting way. (p51)

2. Bible Study

The Bible is to be our main resource as we meet with people because it is God's true word and
it is God’s designated tool for one-to-one work:
  • if we are meeting with unbelievers we should use the bible “unashamedly and extensively to prove that Jesus is Lord & explain God’s plan of salvation” (p61)
  • 2 Tim 3:16 tells us that all scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. If we use the bible, we can have the joy of seeing the people of God thoroughly equipped for every good work.

3. Friendship Sharing our lives with our one-to-one partner.
If our times of one-to-one bible study and prayer are to have the fullest possible impact on both of our lives, we need to share something of who we are, what commitments and relationships we have, how we use our time and money, and what struggles we are both facing. (p71)
It also means meeting practical needs to the extent that we are able. Do they need a meal, some help moving, and afternoon off from the kids? “It is costly in terms of time, emotional energy, vulnerability and sometimes finances. But is it very rewarding.” (p73)

De Witt knows that this will be hard for some of us to manage, she encourages prayer so that we can give of our lives to others.

Things to think about:
  • Do you tend to emphasise one of these three elements in your one-to-one ministry?
  • Do you tend to neglect one?
  • Do find it hard to genuinely share your life with people to the extent suggested here?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Mad Dogs and Englishmen: An Expedition Round My Family, Ranulph Fiennes

An elderly friend recommended this to me so I duly went off to the library to get my hands on it. I don't read many histories, although one of the few areas of history that does interest me is English history, owing to Year 8 study of Tudor England and seeing the Bayeux tapestry in Bayeux in 2000.

Unbenowst to me before now, Ranulph Fiennes is a rather well-known explorer who has climbed Everest and reached both poles. I have to admit, I thought my friend was talking about Joseph Fiennes, the actor, when she recommended the book to me - turns out they are cousins. It was interesting later to note that the family home, Broughton Castle, occupied by the Fiennes for 21 generations, was the castle where Shakespeare in Love was filmed, starring the same Joseph Fiennes.

Ranulph uses his family history to recount the history of England, able to trace his direct ancestry to Charlemagne (~800 AD). His relatives were part of William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066 and others fought on the other side for Henry. One is immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry giving advice to William. Amongst his other relatives he can include men who were at the signing of the Magna Carta, one who sat on the jury of Anne Boleyn's trial, and women who were direct ancestors of both King Henry VI and Richard III. One Celia Fiennes in the 17th C wrote of her explorations of England which resulted in the rhyme 'Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross to see a Fiennes [fine] lady upon a white horse'. It's amazing how involved various parts of his family were in the major points of British history.

It's a long book and it's a history that covers over 1000 years, so there is bound to be some dry patches in there (which there were) but overall it was very interesting. I really liked his writing style too. Here are a few excerpts for you:
Many English people today point to Norman ancestry and boast, 'My lot came here in 1066.' Quite why that should be a point of pride rather than of shame, when one considers how those same ancestors behaved, is questionable and, as I shall reveal, the Fienneses are as guilty as anyone. (p3)

He includes some choice details that I never recall being told at school:
The Bastard (William the Conqueror) was buried in Caen, so corpulent that when the attendant bishops tried to force his body into the royal sarcophagus, his entrails burst forth and the resulting pestilent stench caused panic amongst the mourners, many of whom fled the ceremony. (p19)
Tell me that detail would not make history more interesting for your average teenage boy!

Commenting on the long-term relationship between Britain and France, when an agreement was formed between the two nations in the early 1900s:
[it] put an end to a thousand years of intermittent warfare. It did not, of course, stop the two nations constantly sniping at each other because it is difficult to break an enjoyable habit.
It was sad to read at the end that Fiennes never met his father (he was conceived during the war, after which his father was killed in action):
A psychologist would probably say that my growing up without ever meeting my father or grandfather, nor having any brothers, uncles or male relatives, was bound to make me keen to trace my forbears.... You should give it a go, as you never know whose blood might run in your veins. It could be Genghis Khan, Florence Nightingale, or even Caligula. (p369)

I'm glad I read it.

Bayeux tapestry photo sourced from

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Calvin - Chapter 6

Chapter 6: Scripture is needed as guide and teacher for anyone who would come to God the Creator

Here we get to the point - we need Scripture to understand God. Creation alone or our minds alone are not enough - we do not read them properly. God alone gives us the truth through his word:
Scripture, gathering up the otherwise confused knowledge of God in our minds, having dispersed our dullness, clearly shows us the true God. (ch6, pt 1, p70)

God ensured that his word was recorded for all:
For by his Word, God rendered unambiguous forever, a faith that should be superior to all opinion. Finally, in order that truth might aide forever and survive through all ages, the same oracles he had given to the patriarchs it was his pleasure to have recorded, as it were, on public tablets. (ch6, pt 2, p71)

God's word is so important that:
no one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture (ch6, pt 2, p71)

God's word is important - it is the only way we can truly know God. Does this make you want to savour God's word a little bit more?

(For May - chapters 7 & 8)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Meredith at The Key to the Door has done a lovely little series on godparents - Hooray for Godparents.

Go across and have a look at her posts:

#1 - A bit of intro about promises that godparents make

#2 - Four Ways Godparents can Bless their Godchildren. She lists: pray, celebrate significant moments, remember birthdays, and be a mentor.

#3 -
Four Ways Godchildren can Bless their Godparents: pray, remember birthdays & Christmas, share news & encourage gratitude

I found it really helpful as Husband & I are godparents to 6 children/young adults & our children have 6 godparents between them. It's always good to think about how to care for our own godchildren and to encourage our children to care for their godparents.

Thanks Meredith!

One-to-one: Chapter 2

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

One-to-one: A Discipleship Handbook
Chapter 2 – Getting Involved

De Witt starts the chapter dealing with some usual arguments why someone would not consider doing one-to-one ministry – such as feeling inferior or incompetent, it not being practical or it feeling unnatural.

However, I suspect for those of us who are ministry wives, while we certainly may not feel up to the task, we know that we have a position in which it is logical, easy and perhaps even expected that we might want to catch up with other Christian women to read the bible together. What a privilege! People may expect us to want to read the bible, be keen to do so with younger Christians and will feel like you are ‘doing’ your job if you ask people to read the bible with you. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or frustrated by such expectations, perhaps we could see it as an opportunity and grab it.

She goes on to list some qualifications for one-to-one ministry. The main one is to be a Christian holding firm to the gospel of Christ and seeking to live for God’s glory (p29). All of the following we can continue to grow in!:
  • we must have a strong personal commitment to the Lord Jesus – we need to be moving forward in our relationship with God
  • we will need to love – to pray, to be patient, etc
  • we will need to have a working knowledge of the Bible – to understand God’s basic plan of salvation and how it unfolds, understand types of literature in the bible and how to approach them
  • we will need to be honest and simple – honest about our lives and struggles (appropriately) and simple in our presentation of ideas
  • we will need to be prepared to count the cost – it will take time and emotional energy

Well, who should we meet with? Someone who is willing to meet! But especially consider:
  • non-Christians who are interested in matters of faith and finding out about Jesus
  • new or young Christians – those recently converted
  • those who will be able to teach others, who need some training or equipping

For those of us in ministry, chances are we know of more people who could benefit from one-to-one discipleship than we could possibly take on. However, as we are also often privy to confidential information, we may also have a bigger picture of the needs of many, and therefore (especially in consultation with our husbands) may find it easy to decide on one or two women to catch up with.

De Witt goes on to list some of the potential dangers of one-to-one work:
  • intensity – unhealthy intensity can develop in a one-to-one relationship. Therefore it is recommended that only women mentor women (and likewise men, men). One should also be aware of the potential for same-sex attraction and how to deal with it. If that is a potential risk-area for you, you should strongly re-consider whether one-to-one work is workable for you.
  • control - where the (usually) initiator holds too much authority over the ‘disciple’.
  • legalism – concern for personal godliness can overflow intro a list of rules and regulations for the younger Christian.
  • over-dependence – looking to the disciple for instruction & guidance, rather than God’s word
  • pride – on behalf of the discipler, being looked up to and seen as a ‘guru’ can easily make us proud of ‘our achievements’ with the person.
  • isolation – if those meeting together are not part of the church body

Things to think about:
  • If you do not currently meet with someone one-to-one, are you in a position to consider doing so?
  • What is holding you back? (both legitimate reasons and excuses!)
  • Is there someone you know who you could consider meeting with?