Whatsoever Magazine

Archive for the ‘Danielle’s Editorials’ Category

“We need to stop talking about what we’re going to do when we grow up. We are up!” -Emily Mortimer in The Kid

Remember being small and sitting around with a bunch of other small people just like you, and talking about how old you are? Did you ever try the old “I’m gonna be nine next year,” line—when you hadn’t even turned eight in the current year yet?

On the first day of 2008, Lauren and I were visiting some precious friends up the coast and we began to talk about how old we’d be “next year”. It was just like being back in primary school, only this time it was actually more threatening than cool to jump forward in age. As another twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend (be proud of your vintage, oh 1980 women!) and I did some calculations, I was thrown into an immediate crisis: I’m going to be twenty-nine next year. Repeat that after me: twenty-nine. Now take six slow, deep breaths and drink a glass of cold water.
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Posted on: July 23, 2007

I CANNOT write you
an ordinary letter
as I normally do.
Not this time.
For that might seem like preaching
and I cannot preach.
Not just now.

when every single day
shows with growing clarity
just how much an infant I am
when it comes to knowing Christ.

That is what I am—
what I am when it
comes to understanding
that which is impossible to understand—
what I am when it
comes to searching
the unsearchable.

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It happened again this morning. As I had a break from tweaking with the Whatsoever Magazine blog, I grabbed a snack and pulled out some old HopeChest back issues to read.

Now if you haven’t seen HopeChest Magazine, let me tell you that it’s a pretty fine publication. Rich, inspiring, godly content. Quality writing. An aura of femininity and sweetness. Neat and classy page design. Dozens of subscribers, many of whom seem eager for interaction and fellowship through the magazine’s pages. That magazine is to Whatsoever what the proverbial big sister is to the little one: confident, assured, doing great things, always several steps ahead. And as I sat and paged through one of those big-sister-type issues, I felt that old familiar stirring of comparison.

The temptation to compare and contrast isn’t only limited to my little world of magazine editing. It can happen anywhere, anytime. I’ll see music teachers whose multitude of students are powering through exams and earning A-plus grades all the way, and I’ll wonder why my most recent examinee scraped through with a B-minus and the ad I put in the newspaper last week didn’t garner any calls. I’ll watch someone sing their heart out to Jesus, strumming at a beat-up guitar with complete and beautiful abandon, and my own self-consciousness and lack of natural talent will come rising up before my view. I’ll stand in church and watch a bride, with that beautiful bride-glow on her cheeks, give herself to her husband, and I’ll ask, “Is she more holy than me? More beautiful? More ready?”

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Is it ever okay to be discontent?
Mostly, no.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our circumstances.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our marital status.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our finances.
It’s not okay to be discontent with our family.
It’s not okay to be discontent with what God has called us to.

Being discontent—unhappy, dissatisfied, grumbling—in these situations is dangerous ground to be treading. When we complain about such situations, we challenge God’s omniscience and His inherent goodness. We question His sovereignty and set ourselves up as authorities. That’s not a safe place to be.

But there are times when contentment can be dangerous ground, too. I’m not talking about an abiding content that stems from submissive trust in God’s care for our lives. The type of contentment I’m referring to is a contentment rooted in complacency. It’s the contentment of an overfed beast which won’t move to find a fresh grazing spot. It’s the contentment of the hermit who is happy with his solitary hovel because he can’t see anything better. This kind of contentment is just as dangerous as discontent.

It’s not okay to be content in lethargy.
It’s not okay to be content in compromise.
It’s not okay to be content in stagnation.

Ever seen a River dry up so much that it becomes a little dotted line of ponds playing follow-the-leader? The ponds themselves, once a connected, vibrant stream of life-giving water, turn this yucky murky colour. Cut off from the movement of the stream, they become dead waterholes. The water turns stale and muddy and gets a bad smell to it. The only thing it’s good for is breeding mosquitoes. What caused its uselessness? A lack of movement.

When we become content in complacency and in compromise, when we stop moving, we become sick. We become muddied and lifeless and not good for much at all.

That’s why we, as Christians, must ever be pressing upwards, moving forward, running to the Source of Living Water. We can’t be content to sit stagnantly while life grows more and more murky.

Discontentment and envy are so often rooted in greed. We want marriage. We want life to be easier. We want money. We want to be pretty. We want more stuff. Discontentment cries for more, more, more.

Begging for more when our desires are earthly and based on lust is always wrong. But there are some cries for ‘more’ which the Lord delights to hear. The cry for more love. The cry for more purity. The cry for more holiness. The cry for a heart filled with compassion. The cry for Christ-likeness. The cry for a greater understanding of God’s awesomeness. The apostle Paul said, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [1] When we cry these prayers from our heart, when we strive to press towards the mark, the Lord takes joy.

And yet even in such a heart-cry, there is a paradox. Any good in us comes from Him. He calls us to obedience and yet only He can grant us the strength to step out. He fills us with the passion for more love, more holiness, more purity, more of His light in our lives. And then He causes us to rely on Him to be able to do all those things.

Growing in godliness is both a gift and a challenge. We must pursue, and yet we must wait on God. Sometimes His timing is different to our own. Even in this state, we must balance our discontent in remaining stagnant with contentment in God to do His work in His own time. But we can trust Him: He will do it. Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. [2]

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and the praise of God. [3] Let’s not be content in apathy. Press on!

Danielle Carey
Notes: [1] Philippians 3:14, [2] Philippians 1:6, [3] Philippians 1:9-11.
From Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8 #4

The jury is still out on the whole new year’s resolutions debate. Some people despise them—but that’s usually because they find themselves forever failing to fulfil them. Some people love them—and write mammoth lists of grand dreams. Still other people don’t even think about resolutions at all—they just enjoy watching life sail past them.

Resolutions have been given some bad press over the years. The very phrase brings a cynical sneer to some lips. The sneering ones say that resolutions are too idealistic and it’s not worth the attempt. The reasoning behind that statement is that people who make resolutions only fail anyway. And, you’ve got to admit, it’s usually true. But perhaps that’s because we tend to make our goals too big. We look at the big picture, the far-off goal, instead of at the moments that make up the living of every day. It’s the moments that require resolution, not the lump sum of a year. We must learn to see the possibility and the choices to be made in a moment. God doesn’t offer us years, months, or even days in which to do His work; He gives us one moment after another…

What am I gonna be when I grow up?
And how am I gonna make my mark in history?
And what are they gonna write about me when I’m gone?
These are the questions that shape the way
I think about what matters.
But I have no guarantee of my next heartbeat
And my world’s too big to make a name for myself
What if no-one wants to read about me when I’m gone?
Seems to me that right now’s the only moment that matters.

You know the number of my days
So come paint Your pictures on the canvas in my head and
Come write Your wisdom on my heart
Teach me the power of a moment,
The power of a moment.

In your kingdom where the least is greatest,
The weak are given strength and fools confound the wise.
Forever brushes up against a moment’s time,
Leaving impressions and drawing me into what really matters.
I get so distracted by my bigger schemes.
Show me the importance of the simple things
Like a word, a seed, a thorn, a nail, and a cup of cold water…

You know the number of my days.
So come paint Your pictures on the canvas in my head and
Come write Your wisdom in my heart.
And teach me the power of a moment,
The power of a moment.[1]

[Chris Rice, Short Term Memories]

A word, a seed, a thorn, a nail, a cup of cold water. A yes or a no. A step forward or a step back. A choice, each moment. And He is faithful to give us the strength to do His will—to make the choices that will bring Him glory, that will build Christ’s character into our lives, and that will share His love. If we give our moments to Him, He can do great things. Perhaps we won’t see the work He does behind the scenes; the moment is what we are shown, and that’s what we can work with.

One hot Sunday morning this January, a father in our church stood up to preach. In the course of his sermon, he shared the gentle trail of influence that led to his salvation:

“In 1848 a Mr Kimble taught a Sunday School class and led a young man, who was a Boston shoe clerk, to the Lord. His name was Dwight L. Moody. He became an evangelist in England and in 1879 was involved in an evangelistic awakening. A man named Frederick Meyer came to Christ there and went on to pastor a small church. Preaching at a school one day, he led a young man to Christ whose name was Wilbur Chapman. Chapman, engaged in YMCA work, employed a former basketball player named Billy Sunday to do evangelistic work. Sunday led a revival in Charlotte, which led to more evangelistic campaigns where Mordecai Ham began to preach. There a young man named William Graham (Billy) came to Christ. He did evangelistic work around the world, including a visit to Australia where a woman named Margaret Walker came to Christ. She had a great influence on her whole family so that the next two generations all became Christians, including a “young” man named Geoff Walker who is preaching at Eastlake today…”

The men and women whose faithfulness led to the salvation of two generations of the Walker family knew the power of a moment, and their commitment to the moments the Lord gave them means that one hundred, fifty, twenty, and ten years later, the Lord is reaping the harvest carefully tended to by these people.

Let us resolve to learn the power of a moment in 2006.

Danielle Carey
Notes: [1]The Power of a Moment © Rocketown Records 2004
from Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8 #3

At least, I hope I am. Sometimes it’s hard to know because Gentle Suggestions of Advice Which Must Be Heeded seem to come naturally to big sisters, especially firstborns. It could be because they were all once the only children in houses otherwise occupied by grown-ups. That makes sense. You tend to think that you’re like those you hang around with, right? So perhaps we firstborns get off on the wrong foot by thinking that we’re grown-ups, too. Then when the next small person comes along, it’s “us”—meaning me and my parents—and the baby. But pity the baby. Especially if it’s a boy.

I don’t know about you, but with me the instinct to bossiness comes out fearfully strong when I’m relating to boys. Just ask my younger brother, Nick. For twelve years, he was the smallest Carey, and he used to moan, deploring, that he “had four mothers.” We let him say it. Why else would God have given him big sisters if not to keep him on the straight and narrow way? We—being older and wiser—have known more than him at every stage of life, because before he got there, we got there first. So it made perfect sense that we should be the ones to enlighten him on all points pertaining to righteousness and honourable living.

Except we forgot one thing. We forgot that the verse which says, It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house [1] (and the NIV renders it “nagging” woman), doesn’t just apply to wives. It can apply just as easily to sisters. Why? Because feeling like you’d rather live on a corner of the roof is not a sentiment experienced exclusively by husbands. You don’t have to be married to want to get away from a nagging woman.

The funniest thing is, that when I was younger, I never made the connection. I knew—even when I was small—that for a wife to boss her husband around was just plain wrong. What’s more, for a husband to let his wife boss him around, well, that was even worse. I saw men that were henpecked, and I pitied them. But I didn’t much respect them, nor their wives.

I failed to see, however, that by constantly nagging my brother, I was training myself to be a Pecker, and training him to be The Henpecked. Or, to put it more bluntly, I was practising to be The Brawling Woman and turning him into the Rooftop Dweller. A sad state of affairs, to be sure.

The honest words of some friends—speaking the truth in love—and the good example of some others slowly brought me round to some semblance of sense. But it was a kicking against the goads for a while. For some reason, I had it in my head that the words were “respect your elders”, not “obey your parents.” And I figured that if I knew something right that my brother didn’t, it was my responsibility to tell him.

But all things must be considered. If my brother was about to stick his hand down a snake hole, and I knew there was a snake in there, sure I could remind him of the stupidity of that. But if he—being now a young man and capable of seeing just as well as I am—chose to stick his hand down the hole anyway, that can be his choice. We must let our brothers make those choices sometimes. Surprise! Boys’ moral wellbeing and their sense of right and wrong is not entirely formed by their big sisters. They have their parents, they have the Lord, and they have this nifty little inbuilt thing called a conscience. Certainly, at times it seems as though that little conscience should maybe yell louder, but we don’t have to.

The Scriptures say that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins [2]. Which, at first glance, seems like an out and out exhortation to pursue bossiness. But read the verse carefully, and then compare it to the methods we big sisters commonly practice. It’s not ‘error-of-way’ type stuff that we generally nag about. It’s all those little things that could be better left unsaid. Things like: “Tuck your shirt in!”, “Did you remember to wash your hands?”, and “Would you please not leave pencil shavings all over the desk?”. In matters of life and death—whether physical or spiritual danger—some Gentle Suggestions of Advice Which Must be Heeded won’t go astray. And I dare say, in calmer moments, our brothers may thank us for them. But if our brothers roll the toothpaste tube the wrong way, or if they persist in making disgusting noises, or if they embarrass us when we have visitors, guess what? They don’t instantly lose their salvation and they don’t endanger their lives. So we needn’t instantly lose our cool.

Peter’s advice for the elders of the early church also rings true for the elders of families: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly… neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. [3] If we concentrated more on the example bit, perhaps we wouldn’t do so badly at the nagging part.

Sometimes it seems to be the customary thing to add a clichéd disclaimer to the end of such articles as this, reminding the reader that the author hasn’t fully arrived. That’s what I’m doing here—not because it’s customary but because I need to let you know that I haven’t arrived at the non-nag stage at all. Nick can vouch for that! I have wondered whether—with my track record—I should share with you something I’m still very much learning myself. But since I know so many big sisters struggle with the whole nagging issue, the idea persisted.

So, regardless of the flaws you see in my life, regardless of my failings in this area, please, sisters, love your brothers and don’t nag them to distraction. We want brothers who will grow up to be strong men with firm convictions and a love of family, not boys who will turn into henpecked husbands and submissive spouses. Please build up their faith, not whine in their ears.

And I’ll stop nagging you all now.

Danielle Carey

reprinted from Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8, #2
Notes: [1] Prov. 21:9; [2] James 5:20; [3] 1 Peter 5:2-3

I remember, many years ago, seeing a film adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s fairytale, Pinocchio. One scene in particular stands out in my memory. The wild and independent little puppet Pinocchio has run away and soon joins a stream of boys travelling—in heady delirium—to the Land of Toys. The coach driver delivering the boys to their destination sends the hyperactive boys into even more of a spin by loudly announcing:
“There’s one thing all you boys need to know. Rule number one is: there are no rules!”

What is so universally off-putting about rules? Why is it that knowing we aren’t allowed to do something suddenly endows that forbidden thing with an air of fascination and mystery?

The simplest answer is that man, by nature, is contrary. It began with Adam and Eve. Once God told them that one tree—just one—in the garden of Eden was forbidden, that was it. That tree was the only one they thought about. It was the object of their imaginings and the focus of their plans. Trees were only a fairly recent invention, but never had they received that much attention. And soon it was all over. Adam and Eve gave in to the craving, broke the rule, and the rest is… well, history. You know the story.

Recently at a church Bible study, we watched a video which sent camera crews out onto city streets with the goal of interviewing random city dwellers. They asked various non-churched young people their views of Christianity, and a large majority of kids claimed that, among other things, Christianity was all about rules and laws.

Funnily enough, we Christians are sometimes guilty of thinking the same thing. We draft up our faith as a set of rules and regulations, a list of what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do. Sometimes, we forget that Christianity is not about a list of laws, but about a relationship. Christianity does not mean following a specific set of guidelines and getting into heaven by completing the entire checklist. We don’t ‘earn’ rewards like boy scouts get badges: one for helping an old lady across the street, one for a random act of kindness, another for refraining from swearing, and a special award for dressing modestly. It’s not all about that.

So does this mean that rules and guidelines are unimportant? Not at all! God Himself gave the Israelites the ten commandments, and whole books of guidelines for pure and godly living. In those days, before the Messiah had come, holiness was the only way to walk with God.

And it is still so. We must worship Him with our very lives, following the example of Jesus, and seeking God’s Word to find specific guidelines for the ways we should live our lives, holy and pleasing to Him.

But that’s where the difference between the world’s view and our view of Christianity lies. We don’t follow laws, rules, and structures because we might not get into heaven without them. We make choices and model our behaviour because God is our amazing Father and we just want to do things that make Him smile. We want to live lives that are pleasing to Him. Ultimately, following those rules won’t save us. They may help us stay on the straight and narrow way, but, without Jesus, godly works are nothing.

Does this mean we don’t follow rules? Does this mean that the ten commandments are a useless thing of the past? Do we no longer have to consider others? No, but we do need to look at our motives. Are we making choices and doing things because we feel that it’s what we must do? When our hearts are full of love for the Lord, no sacrifice, no step of obedience, no conviction will seem like a rule we must buckle under; instead, the choices we make and the guidelines we follow will be like gifts given back to God, because we love Him and this is the best we can offer. A man will fight against the shackles of slavery, but he will do anything for a beloved kinsman.

…H.O. said Alice wasn’t a lady… Then he called her a disagreeable cat, and she began to cry.
…So Dicky said, “Let her alone and say you’re sorry, or I’ll jolly well make you!”
So H.O. said he was sorry. Then Alice kissed him and said she was sorry, too; and after that H.O. gave her a hug, and said, “Now I’m really and truly sorry,” so it was all right

Love makes difficult tasks easy to carry out—turning them from orders into offerings..

Danielle Carey
reprinted from Whatsoever Magazine, Volume 8, #1
*from The Treasure Seekers, by Edith Nesbit