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SPRING_2016 volume sixty-three # three christianwomanmag.com

CAR PARKING LIKE A MAN THE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING YOUR IMAGINATION FREE SOULS DEFINING SOULS

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contents... spring twenty-sixteen

06 BOOK EXCERPT Souls Defining Souls

4 Christian Woman Spring 2016

10 GOD CONVERSATIONS Car Parking Like a Man

13 A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE The Importance of Setting Your Imagination Free


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WORDS: LORI DIXON

I

n Soles Defining Souls, we’ll explore various points-of-view of women wandering around the foyer and halls of our churches . . . and those who will no longer step foot inside. Let’s face it, the topic can be tricky to explore, but with a fun shoe analogy and some creativity, the journey needn’t be excruciating! We can, in fact, take a painless peek into different sisters’ soles to get some insight into why they “do what they do”. 6 Christian Woman Spring 2016

Come take a stroll with me as we venture into The Lord’s shoe closet for a brief, illuminating walk in our different sisters’ shoes. Then we will examine the kind of shoe, or shoes, He’s created each of us to be. After that, we’ll hop up onto the Cobbler’s workbench for a few needed repairs and adjustments. Ready? Let’s go!

Penny Loafer Finding love is like finding shoes... People look for good looking, smart ones... But somehow they end up with ones they feel comfortable with. Meet our first sole, Penny Loafer. Everyone knows her. Well, actually, very few know her, but it seems everyone talks about her. She’s been attending the church for over five years now and refuses to volunteer for anything... or so it seems.


Book excerpt.

Pulling into the parking lot, Penny was relieved to hear the sound of praise and worship music. Everyone would be in the sanctuary, allowing her to sneak in the back, unnoticed. More often than not, she arrived five minutes late every week. She was thankful her husband, Sam, went early for the elders’ meetings—it gave her an excuse to take her own car. Yawning, Penny fumbled through the clutter in the console, trying to find her reading glasses. Months ago, she volunteered to clean the local soup kitchen on Saturday nights. At the time, she didn’t realize it would result in her getting home after midnight. Not that she minded. She loved helping out, and the serenity of the quiet kitchen soothed her. Working alone, scrubbing down the greasy stove and grimy countertops was, for Penny, an act of worship. Everything she touched, every plate she stacked, she asked Jesus to bless those who contributed to the mess left behind. With her prayer list on the counter, Penny conversed with the Lord, interceding for many as she cleaned. Prayer is her thing. She loves to hang out with God all day long, and feels privileged to share and bear others’ burdens, no matter the time of day or where she may be. Having found her specs, Penny pushed them up on her crown like a headband and stared at the enormous church she called home. She grabbed her Bible bag, and then paused yet again. Her heart was grieved. No matter how hard she tried, no one here seemed to accept or understand her. Unlike Sam, who everyone loved. Penny’s husband was a born leader, ministering on the church board and discipling young men. Naturally outgoing, he enjoyed greeting the congregation and passing out bulletins. Opposites

attract, all right. For Penny, church life was not so easy, and being the wife of a popular elder placed a lot of unmet expectations on her. Even so, her depth and quietness complemented her husband’s extroverted personality. Together, they were a great fit. Sadly, many women in the church thought otherwise, and she knew what they said behind her back—that she was a woman who did not get involved, was not sociable, and did not deserve her wonderful husband. But they were all wrong. It’s not that she disliked other believers or thought she was better than them. She loved them! But while her hubby showed his Christian love with a smile and a handshake, Penny demonstrated it privately on her knees. Not long after joining the fellowship, Penny was excited to hear they had a prayer team. However, after attending a few of the prayer meetings, she became discouraged and full of anxiety. Shouldn’t prayer teams sit together and just pray? As someone who struggled in groups or noisy settings, the idle chit-chat and tea before prayer made her very uncomfortable. Her husband was the one who suggested she arrive fashionably late and just jump in once prayer was underway. At first, that worked well... until she was politely informed that her late arrival was inconsiderate, and she should come on time for tea or stay away. So as to not upset the others, she stopped attending. She didn’t stop praying; she just did it alone. Since then, hardly any of the women spoke to her. No matter, this was their place of worship and she was making it work. Unhitching her seatbelt and opening the car door, Mrs. Loafer could hear the volume of worship rising. She shuffled across the rough gravel parking lot toward the front

entrance. Each sharp stone could be felt beneath her soft soles, causing her to walk that much slower. Then she saw them, Stella Stiletto and Betty Boot, watching her from behind the big glass doors with serious, determined faces. Trouble. “Penny!” Enveloped in a death grip hug, Penny struggled to breathe between Stella’s ample breasts. The woman was an amazon in her sixinch heels. Pulling her head to one side, her eyes begged Betty to rescue her. Instead, Betty broke her stare, gazing down at her sturdy work boots. Finally released, Stella continued. “Penny, we’ve been talking,” she motioned toward Betty, who was busy trying to rub out a smudge on her boot. “We decided it’s time for you to get more involved here. We need to encourage and allow more women to get busy, and we’re starting with you. We’ve signed you up for children’s ministry starting next week. Isn’t that exciting?” Without waiting for Penny to respond, Stella smiled and continued, “The schedule is on the door downstairs. And remember, whatever we do, we work at it with all our hearts, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Flipping her hair over her shoulder, Stella gave Penny another awkward, stiff hug, then grabbed Betty’s hand and pulled her toward the heavy, dark sanctuary doors. Alone, Penny stood for a moment, trying to process what had just happened. Her mind raced to recall part of the familiar Colossians chapter that Stella had quoted. She had prayed it many times by heart: ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on

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Book excerpt “Not wanting to upset the church or her husband, she knew what she had to do. First thing tomorrow, she would CALL HER DOCTOR AND GET A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE ANTIANXIETY MEDICINE she took after being forced into children’s ministries...”

love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:12-15) Not wanting to upset the church or her husband, she knew what she had to do. First thing tomorrow, she would call her doctor and get a prescription for the anti-anxiety medicine she took after being forced into children’s ministries at their old fellowship. She loved children, and prayed over the Sunday school register every week, but it wasn’t her spiritual gift to teach. Wiping a tear, Penny decided to tidy the visitors’ desk before joining Sam in worship. Opening the drawer behind the counter, Penny restocked some cards and bulletins. Taking a stack of green outreach brochures, she laid hands on the pile and prayed that they would reach those who were searching. Lord, bless each and every hand that both gives and receives these! Feeling better having prayed, Penny pushed back her shoulders and made her way into the sanctuary... *** Poor Penny. Months later she wound up in the hospital, suffering from chronic depression and panic attacks. Now, before you jump on ol’ Stella, remember, she is struggling to breathe behind her mask of perfection. It’s not easy being a joyful and capable woman, 24/7. Then there’s innocent Betty. When Stella offered to help, Betty had no idea she was going to rope in Penny. But Betty had been overwhelmed when Paisley dropped off the roster, and it was a relief to have someone fill that need... Far-fetched tale? I wish! Really, this story is a compilation of 8 Christian Woman Spring 2016

just a few of the responses I received from Penny Loafers. It became clear that introverts in the church are often the ones most deeply wounded. I was grieved as I read testimonies of interventions, mean emails, phone calls, and even “eviction letters” telling women to leave the church— all because they are not recognized for the amazing, deep, thoughtful women they are. You see, Loafers are listeners. And typically, they are prayer warriors. No, Pennys may not feel comfortable attending the women’s retreats or functions, but they love the Lord fiercely, and if you are willing to talk to them, they can be the best friends you’ve ever had. It takes patience though. Talking to a Penny may be a bit uncomfortable at first, as they tend to not open up right away—especially if they have not yet been to the Cobbler for any needed repairs. Let’s hear from some of the walking wounded: “One comment I would like to add is that I have experienced an ‘all or nothing’ attitude from these women (truth be told, there are a few men in there too!). The Nothings: some people have been absolutely oblivious to me, some have stood away from me chatting with their friends, obviously talking about me (determined by glances sent my way), and The Alls: some have overwhelmed me with their ‘zealotry’, so much so that it is uncomfortable to participate in a meaningful conversation with them. I have found more important, meaningful, God inspired conversation with women outside the church than in it!” ~50-year-old Canadian

“I kept to myself, not because I didn’t want to be a part of the family of people at church, but I am shy in getting to know people and did feel that there were cliques within the ladies’ groups that made me feel less inclined to interact.” ~31-year-old British “I have always been a Christian. But I am also an introvert... after two years, the pastor’s wife—who I truly trusted and admired—all of the sudden approached me and again tried to convince me to go to her Bible study during the week. As an introvert I tend to dread these more intimate groups. I can talk and share in a one-on-one scenario but it’s much harder for me to feel comfortable in a group. So I was always dodging that. But that day, the pastor’s wife was determined to convince me otherwise. And during that talk I heard from her that I was selfish, that I wasn’t growing in Christ, and that I have a problem and should look for professional help.” ~38-year-old Australian My word. We’ve done some vicious damage to our loyal, quiet Pennys...

Like what you’ve read? Why not meet the rest of God’s shoe closet... pick up your copy of Soles Defining Souls today!


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A conservative upbringing left me with a deeply engrained stereotype that was at odds with who God was calling me to be. To be a woman was to be meek and passive. How could I possibly be a leader? What did it mean for a woman to be strong? It was a struggle that came to a head when God called me to pioneer a church.

10 Christian Woman Spring 2016


God Conversations. Study.

CAR PARKING LIKE A MAN WORDS: TANIA HARRIS

T

he bumper bar neared closer. I glanced in my side mirror. Angle a little more. Turn slightly. That’s it. Now a direct line in. Right, you got it. Engine off. Keys out. Success. Two men watching on the roadside cheered. I smiled triumphantly in return. For a long time, I was shocking at car parking. ‘Men have better spatial awareness’, I’d quote to myself when my woeful manoeuvring left the car stuck a metre out from the kerb. But three years living in space-starved Potts Point changed that. In Sydney’s inner-city where carparks are as rare as diamonds, you get good at making the most of teeny blocks of bitumen. Since there was never a man to call on, I had to learn to do it myself. And given the rarity of parks, I got a lot practise. Neuroscience tells us that men are generally better at car-parking. Because they use a different area of the brain, they usually fare better in activities that involve spatial skills.1 It means that men can also read maps more effectively than women and why they don’t have to turn them upside down three times to orientate themselves. Those jokes about women drivers may have some grounding in fact.2 1 http://www.webmd.com/balance/ features/how-male-female-brainsdiffer?page=2, accessed 26/3/16 2 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ article-1237236/Men-ARE-better-womenparking-Feminist-scientists-proves-sexist-mo-

There are other noticeable differences too. You may have heard some of them; Women are better at relationships. Men are better at decision-making. Women are nurturing and emotional. Men are strong and protective. These kind of stereotypes have their usefulness. Generalities help us to understand one another. They give us a language to use and a framework to draw upon so that we can work with and adjust to each other. There’s a reason why John Grey’s Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus was a bestseller in its day. But while gender stereotypes may have their use, they can also be damaging. Those neatly packaged categories we use to label each other can become an excuse for poor behaviour and serve as an unseen force to keep us in our place of weakness. We don’t learn how to park a car because the stereotype says we’re not supposed to be able to. WOMEN WHO WANT TO BE LIKE WILLIAM WALLACE It took me a while to realise this in my own life. A conservative upbringing left me with a deeply engrained stereotype that was at odds with who God was calling me to be. To be a woman was to be meek and passive. How could I possibly be a leader? What did it mean for a woman to be strong? It was a struggle that came torists-known-along.html, accessed 26/3/16

to a head when God called me to pioneer a church. At the time Mel Gibson’s Braveheart was on at the movies, and my friends and I went along. As I watched William Wallace in his flowing locks and blue warpaint leading the charge for justice, something stirred inside of me. As I saw him refuse to compromise to an evil tyrant, I found myself telling God I would will give my life for his kingdom. When I asked myself who did I want to be, it was not the beautiful and helpless Murren needing to be rescued, but the strong and uncompromising William sacrificing himself to save others. I wanted to ride like him, speak like him and proclaim freedom for others like him. It was a fierce thing; a powerful thing. Sitting in that darkened cinema with my box of buttered popcorn, the warrior in me was awakened. Some would say those kind of feelings are a little misplaced; that I was even acting ‘like a man’. In some ways I was. Gender stereotypes tell us it’s the men who are supposed to fight. But God has never allowed society’s constructs to dictate his callings. He’s often been one to subvert the rules. Women like Deborah, Esther, Junia and Priscilla all stepped out of the categories of their time and demonstrated a different way. They never allowed the stereotypes to become an excuse to resist the call of God.

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God Conversations.

MEN WHO ONLY TALK ABOUT FOOTBALL Of course the effects of gender stereotyping are not just confined to women. A good friend of mine used to lead a men’s ministry in his church and found it to be one of the most challenging areas of his job. His biggest obstacle was to get the men talking - really talking. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get them to open up. When they played golf, all they would talk about was their putting technique and latest handicap. When they stopped for a drink, footy scores dominated the discussion. No-one wanted to reveal their struggles or air their weaknesses; no-one wanted to talk about their pornography addictions or their loveless marriages. Brené Brown’s well-known research shows us that vulnerability is essential to wholehearted living.3 The ability to open up lies at the core of creativity and innovation, as well as impacting the ability to give and receive love. Her work shows that this is particularly difficult for men who are concerned with showing emotional control. Someone had told them it wasn’t masculine to express your feelings. The problem for my minister friend was that if the men refused to be vulnerable, there could be no accountability. If they weren’t open about their weaknesses, there could be no way to deal with the real issues 3 http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_ on_vulnerability.html and http://www. ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_ shame.html

that lay buried beneath the surface. The result was that the process of discipleship was thwarted and and everyone suffered the fallout. As I said to my friend, he would have had a far easier time leading the women’s ministry where a cup of tea and a chair signals an instant invitation to unload. THE GOD-TYPE So we have our differences. Studies consistently show that men and women think and act differently because of the way they use their brain.4 But while debates exist about whether those differences are a product of nature or whether they are shaped by our gender roles in society, the beauty of our differences means that we can use them to help each other. Instead of using them as markers to separate, we can make them springboards to learn from. Men can learn from women how to develop intimacy in relationships (since women generally test higher in verbal-emotive functioning) and women can learn from men how to read maps (since men generally perform higher in spatial activities). Men can learn to collaborate more effectively in decision-making (since women tend to place higher value on relationships) and woman can learn to be more direct (since men tend to screen out the distractions and focus on the facts).5 Instead of competing

with, criticising or just making jokes of our distinctions, we can use them to help each other grow. This was God’s vision from the beginning. Together men and women were made in the image of God and given the earth to rule (Gen.1:26-28). When God fills us with his Spirit and commissions us to his plans, it’s not to fulfil a gender stereotype. It’s not to make us become more feminine or more masculine, however society defines it. It’s to make us more like the one who created us. Ultimately it’s to make us more like Jesus. Jesus is the one who demonstrates the fullness of humanity; who confounds the stereotypes and defines the image of all we should be. Sensitive and compassionate, as he wept at tombs and reached out to the leper; nurturing and merciful as he gathered children in his lap and instructed others to lay down their swords. Humble and teachable, as he inspired women to learn at his feet and bold and courageous as he sent them out to proclaim the gospel and stand by his cross. Society has its stereotype but Jesus shows us the God-type. To be transformed into his likeness is the goal, regardless of whether we are male or female. We learn from him and we learn from each other. And in doing so, we become the people God intended us to be. And we may even become better at parking cars…

4 Gurian, Michael & Annis, Barbara, Leadership and the Sexes, Jossey-Bass, CA, USA, 2008, p.27. 5 Leadership and the Sexes, Jossey-Bass, CA, USA, 2008, p.9,10,28ff.

Tania Harris is a pastor, speaker and founder of God Conversations (godconversations.com), an international ministry that equips people to recognise and respond to God’s voice. With a diverse history as church planter, pastor and Bible College lecturer, her ministry is known for its biblical depth, practical wisdom and ‘God-stories.’ She speaks to groups of all ages and denominations and is a popular voice on radio in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Currently Tania is completing her Doctorate in Ministry researching peoples’ experiences hearing God’s voice. Tania is an ordained minister with the Australian Christian Churches. Hillsong is her church home in Sydney, Australia. 12 Christian Woman Spring 2016


A Different Perspective.

The Importance of Setting Your

Imagination Free WORDS: BERNI DYMET

L

et’s face it. You live a hectic life. Work, family, emails, SMS’, social media, television, Netflix … there’s more than enough attention-grabbing stuff out there to fill your day 24/7 and then some. So let me ask you – when do you dream dreams? When do you allow your imagination to roam free? When do you turn your heart and your mind to things that inspire you? When do you get the

creative juices flowing? Sadly, the answer for most people, is never. I was interviewed recently on Radio Rhema in New Zealand, by broadcasting legend John Peachy. The man has a passion for letting people tell their stories. After the interview, he and I were chatting in the studio about the stories behind the stories. He was telling me about a well-known personality who he’d

interviewed recently. The man is a public figure with a law degree … but in his younger years, he’d studied philosophy. Now the moment John started heading down the philosophy rabbit hole, apparently the man’s eyes lit up. He became animated and passionate. This was something that inspired him. This was something that he truly cared about. And yet, somehow it lay forgotten in his heart … after all, being a politician is

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A different perspective.

God is an immensely creative God. And in that very same chapter, we’re told that we – you and I – are made in His image. Which, unless He’s lying, means that you are an immensely creative person.

a hard grind. It takes every ounce of the man’s time and energy. And hey, being you, being me … that’s a hard grind too. So hard, that the humdrum that fills 95% of our lives seems to have rusted on to us; immobilised us; made us slaves to the here and now, to the stuff that just has to get done. (Are you getting this?) And that … that’s a recipe for disaster. Because as your imagination goes into hibernation, the passion, the excitement, the awe, the wonder, the excitement of conjuring up something new out of your God-given creative heart and mind … all just drain out of you. That’s why so many people live out their lives as empty shells. A Startling Fact About God … and About You Imagine that you know nothing else about God, except what you can read about Him in Genesis chapter 1. If that were the case, and you were asked, based on the evidence in that one chapter, to come up with one adjective to describe God, then the one that would probably top the list, is … creative. God is an immensely creative God. And in that very same chapter, we’re told that we – you and I – are made in His image. Which, unless He’s lying, means that you are an immensely creative person. And just like that politician with a passion for philosophy, there are things in your DNA that cause you to light up, to be inspired, to get excited and passionate again. But if you’re like most people … that thing is hidden away up in the attic somewhere, in a dusty old box … long forgotten.

14 Christian Woman Spring 2016

It’s Time to Set Your Imagination Free So … maybe it’s time to disconnect, switch off, get alone or with some other creative people and dream crazy dreams. Dream about the things that you’re really passionate about. I just had someone wander past my desk (I’m visiting with this radio network in Kiwi Land as I peck away here at the keyboard – just grabbed a desk in the open plan office) and without any prompting, this radio producer told me that his life is so operational. Today’s program, tomorrow’s program … churn them out. See?! Even the creative guys have this problem. And this guy is particularly creative and talented. It’s not that he doesn’t love what he’s doing – he absolutely does. It’s just … that there’s no time to imagine new things (his words, not mine). Come on … it’s time to set your imagination free. It’s time to give your imagination a license to roam over hill and dale; to go to crazy places it hasn’t been to before; to think up things so outrageous, so big, so out of the box, that unless God were in them, they’d have no chance of succeeding. One of the great joys of my job, is that I get to give young, creative people the license to do that in our ministry. TV producers, web developers, social media experts. A case in point. A week before I published this blog, we had just completely redeveloped our ministry website – christianityworks.com. And as all the creative types – the designers, developers, SM experts – sat around in that first meeting, I painted them a crazy, outrageous picture of what

I had in my mind. But it was their job to apply their creativity to make it happen; to turn my crazy ideas into something amazing. What they came up with was stunning. But on top of that, they all enjoyed themselves because here was a chance to let their imaginations run wild. And that’s what creativity is … it’s setting your imagination free. That’s what you were made to do … as God created you in his image. So, what are you waiting for?

Berni Dymet is the CEO of the global media ministry Christianityworks. Each week his radio and television broadcasts are heard by millions of people in 160 countries around the world. To obtain your FREE copy of his latest booklet, visit christianityworks.com.


HOME OR AWAY? ONLINE VS ON CAMPUS HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT COLLEGE FOR YOU THE ‘B’ WORD BUDGETING MADE EASY HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE CALLED TO MINISTRY?

SEARCH FOR COLLEGES NOW www.findachristian.com.au


Home or Away? THE PROS AND CONS OF DISTANCE EDUCATION By SABRINA MARTIN

M

aking decisions about college is no light matter. Your choices will have a tremendous impact on your future. This isn’t meant to scare anyone, but it’s true. Of course, there are more options to choose from these days when it comes to attending college.

This article focuses specifically on the option of distance learning vs. classroom learning. Many individuals have completed their degrees online and loved it. Others have attempted distance learning only to find that it wasn’t right for them.

Below is a list of some of the pros and cons of distance learning. You’ll want to consider them before deciding to attend college on campus or online. Pros 1. Flexibility: one of the reasons going to school is a problem for many

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Find a Christian College.

folks is because they don’t have the time and ability to attend classes. Although you do have assignment deadlines to meet, distance learning allows you to have more control over your schedule. 2. Saves money: with the price of petrol these days online education is looking even more appealing. Not everyone has the option of living on campus, and commuting can really hurt your pocket. Distance learning can be a smart money saving alternative. If you are taking distance learning courses through a local college they do sometimes offer tutoring services. However, many of these services are conducted online. Online learning can be very discouraging when you aren’t able to get the one on one help you need. Before beginning a distance learning course, consider how well you are able to grasp the subjects you will be studying. If it is something that you really struggle with, taking a class on campus is more beneficial.

3. Self Discipline: it’s true that distance learning is difficult if you aren’t self motivated, but it does offer another advantage. The self discipline you’ll learn from online college is invaluable. Many employers actually prefer hiring individuals that have completed their degrees and training online because it demonstrates their ability to stay on task and work independently. 4. Work and Family: If you’d like to get your degree or brush up on some of your skills, but don’t have the time because of work and family duties, distance learning could be a wonderful opportunity. Yes, it still requires time and dedication, but when you don’t have to get in the car and drive to a class every other night, the idea of college seems a lot more appealing. Distance learning is a great option for parents and the employed. Cons 1. Self Motivation: if you aren’t self motivated, distance learning is probably not for you. Although your instructor’s will provide you with a course syllabus and most likely an assignment schedule, you don’t have the structured atmosphere of the classroom to keep you on task. Missing deadlines and having poor grades can cause you to lose financial assistance. 2. Needing Assistance: if you are taking distance learning courses through a local college they do sometimes offer tutoring services. However, many of these services are conducted online. Online learning can be very discouraging when you aren’t able to get the one on one help you need. Before beginning a distance learning course, consider how well you are able to grasp the subjects you will be studying. If it is something that you really struggle with, taking a class on campus is more beneficial. 3. Social Interaction: Attending college on campus provides the benefit of social interaction with other students. Although you may have access to classmates emails, or be involved in discussion forums while doing distance learning, developing friendships and socializing is difficult. If you’d like to get to know other students, distance learning may not be the best choice. 4. Distractions: this is one of the biggest disadvantages of online education. There are often so many distractions at home that studying and completing assignments is nearly impossible. If your home environment is not adequate for study, you may want to consider attending college on campus. By accurately assessing your needs, abilities, and circumstances and keeping these things in mind while you consider an education through distance learning, you’ll be able to make an informed and wise decision.

18 Christian Woman Spring 2016


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Each course has a unique pathway designed for those who wish to study the multicultural and multidisciplinary perspective of religion or work as a chaplain, for a church, a school or an agency. There are further postgraduate offerings for professionals already working in ministry who seek a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition.

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hen choosing a college, it can become quite overwhelming and at times, a little daunting. So, guidance is needed as you start your journey towards higher education. One of the first steps is to know who you are and where you would fit in. You need the right college to suit your personality and to ask some pertinent questions. You should decide whether you want to be in a small or large city, or close to home. Also consider whether you are happy with a large student body, and what extra-curricular subjects are available. Firstly, it is important to ask the question – why a Christian college? You need to determine that you want to pursue faith filled higher education. Consider how your faith suits the particular Christian colleges you are interested in. Do you want to choose a college that is affiliated with a particular denomination? But most importantly you need to ask God where He wants you to be and what college would be the best suited to the destiny He has for you. Make sure you seek good and right information when researching this important decision. There are so many colleges to choose from, and many decisions to be made. Search online for a list of the different Christian colleges that are available. You may find a college that offers the subjects you want to study but the college is in another state or far away from where you live. In this case you need to ‘shop around’ and be careful to be fully informed when thinking about moving away. If possible, go and visit the colleges you are interested in and talk to the Principal and student representatives. Many colleges can look good on paper but may not be suitable for you. Ask a lot of questions and don’t be worried about doing this. Try to see as much of the campus as you can. It would be good if you could sit in on a class and visit the chapel. Maybe you could interact with current students on Facebook and Twitter and view YouTube videos. There are student loans you can apply for if necessary. Do your homework on what is available and remember to keep to the deadlines the institutions have set. Try and apply as early as you can so you have enough time if you need to answer a lot of questions. There may be some colleges that you don’t think you would be admitted to. Don’t give up, apply anyway.


Find a Christian College.

How Theology and Counselling Complement Each Other

I

n the new DSM-5, the word “disorder” is used to describe now over 300 maladies identified with being human! This got me thinking, from a biblical theology and practical counselling perspective: the word “disorder” is in some ways actually an accurate word to describe the biblical story of what went wrong with the world and a clue as to what is required to make things right again, when we engage in the restorative ministry of the counselling of souls. As Christian counsellors, our counselling practice has to be firmly grounded in a robust biblical theology. Another way to say that is, our theology provides us with the compass we need, to know what our “true north” is when journeying alongside our clients; and our counselling knowledge and skills that we learn and become more and more competent in along the journey, is our street map giving us the necessary tools or practical direction on the ground. Our theology and counselling complement one another rather fittingly as they journey together within a biblical worldview that sees our story framed within God’s  good order, sin’s disorder, Christ’s re-order and the Kingdom to come’s new order.1 Emotional Immaturity Linked to Depression and Anxiety The main characteristic of emotional maturity is 1 Read more on http://www.aifc.com.au/how-theology-and-counselling-complement-each-other/

20 Christian Woman Spring 2016

the ability to see life clearly and accurately and to be able to deal with life’s ups and downs in a healthy way. Emotionally mature people are able to control their emotions and take full responsibility for their life and actions along with being able to handle their anger, resentments, insecurities, disappointments, fears, jealousies, guilt, and a lot of other emotions including grief. On the other hand, emotionally immature people are unable to get past their negative emotions act and react to their feelings and can’t make sense of situations or defend themselves in an appropriate way. What can we do about it? Avoid dwelling on the negative aspects and seek support when required. Eating healthy and exercising can assist mental health and self-acceptance rather than blame is a key factor to a successful outcome. Those who focused on something that is important and meaningful to them, like core values or family were more receptive to acting on suggestions of taking up regular exercise in the month to come. Brain scans showed that the endomedial prefrontal cortex was activated with the meaningful thoughts.2

2 Read more on http://www.aifc.com.au/emotional-immaturitylinked-to-depression-and-anxiety/


`

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O

ne of the most important issues every Pastor has to work through is their call to ministry. Over the years, I’ve discovered there will be times when the only thing that keeps you going in the ministry is your call. When I teach Pastoral ministries classes or have the opportunity to mentor young men who feel called to preach, the first two issues I talk to them about are their conversion experience and their call to the ministry. If you are not clear on both of these issues you have no business going into the Pastoral ministry. So let me give you just a few thoughts about how to know whether or not you are called to ministry: 1) Can you do anything else and be happy? This was a question that my Pastor asked me when I surrendered to the ministry and that I ask anyone who tells me they feel called to the ministry. It is actually a question that is derived from Charles Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students”. The point of this question is that the call to preach must be like an all consuming fire in your life. Those who are genuinely called find that they simply can’t do anything else.

HOW DO YOU KNOW

YOU are CALLED to MINISTRY?

22 Christian Woman Spring 2016

2) Has God given you a clear Word from His Word? The night God called me to preach our Pastor was preaching from Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” The moment I read these words, they thundered in my soul and

I felt that God was speaking directly to me. At the moment I had the overwhelming sense of God’s call to preach the gospel wash over my heart and I knew I could do nothing else. I received a clear Word from God’s Word. When I talk with men who feel called to the ministry, I always stress the importance of being able to hang your call on specific passage of Scripture. God speaks to us from His Word! I am not saying that the call will not be accompanied by a strong emotion or experience of grace, but apart from a clear Word from the Word of God, we are prone to misunderstand or misinterpret. If you feel called to ministry, search the Bible until you have a clear Word from the Word to confirm your call. 3) Do you meet the qualifications? The qualifications for ministry are found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-16. I am not going to get into the specifics of these qualifications in this post, but I do want to say that anyone who is called to preach must meet these qualifications before they assume the office of Pastor. I am not saying that any of us are perfect and at times we all falter or come up short in some of these areas, but generally I am seeing far too many men going into the ministry trying to explain away or minimize these qualifications. Whenever I meet someone who does not take these qualifications seriously it is evidence to me that they are not called. 4) Has the congregation affirmed your call? Receiving the affirmation of the


Find a Christian College.

church is perhaps the single most important step in confirming your call to ministry. In my denomination, we have a two step process of first licensing a man to preach and then later ordaining. In both of these steps, the affirmation of the church is crucial. In licensing, the church affirms that they see the gifts necessary to be an effective minister in the life of the candidate. They are essentially saying, “We think there is some potential here and want to give the candidate opportunities to demonstrate their call.” Usually what happens then is the person who feels called will get some opportunties to preach and minister within the local church. This provides the church the opportunity to examine his qualifications, his gifts, and frankly, whether or not he can preach.

Eventually, if all goes well and the candidate is called to a church he will go through ordination. Which involves being questioned by and ordination council and then affirmed by the calling church. My council to young men going into the ministry is to seek as much input from other members of the church as possible. In my experience, they are usually in a better place to objectively evaluate our call to ministry. The bottom lines is this, if you are called to the ministry the church will see it. If you can’t convince the church you are called, then you are not called to the ministry. 5) Can you minister for the applause of God alone? What I mean by this statement is

that in the ministry you cannot be a people pleaser. Your only job is to please God and do what He tells you to do. This means that you will often be unpopular or even hated for preaching the Word of God. If you desire the applause of men more than the applause of God, you are not fit for the ministry. You will cave to popular opinion and be unwilling to say the things that may make you unpopular. As a preacher you must be willing to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) You must be willing to be faithful even when that will make you unpopular. Can you minister for the applause of God alone? If not, don’t preach! If so, then PREACH! PREACH! PREACH!

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Find a Christian College.

C

ollege is a wonderful season in life. It’s an exciting time of knowledge acquisition and personal growth. Not to mention the opportunity to interact with interesting people from a range of backgrounds who often end up being life long friends and even spouses. Oh the good old days! Increasingly, the ‘good old days’ of college life are turning into the bad old days of poor spending habits, living for the now and debt 24 Christian Woman Spring 2016

accumulation that burdens graduates well after their college years. My challenge to you is to ‘be weird’: don’t follow the norm, stay debt free during your college years. Learn money management skills now while you are young and it will change your destiny. For many of us our first major debt is student loans — either in the form of Commonwealth HELP debt or bank loans. The trouble is, the debt accrues without us really

thinking about it, and then, with the HELP debt in particular, we don’t have to think about repayments until we’re earning about $38,000 and the taxation department takes care of them. The fact is, by going down this route students are missing out on significant opportunities to get ahead. Yes, that’s right, get ahead during your college years. This is even more important for those pursuing Christian ministry, as


these vocations are not renowned for paying well. If you pay your HECS fees upfront you save a massive 20% of the fee. Now that is worth writing home to mum about. If you have already incurred a HECS or HELP debt you can pay off lump sums of $500 or more and get a 10% discount. It may be not worth writing home to mum about but certainly well worth while anyway. So what can be done to avoid debt to fund your tertiary education? There are four major strategies: • Start saving now • Scholarships • Other income sources • Funding options Start saving for college now I don’t know how many kids get part time jobs as soon as they are eligible but with the unemployment rate at the lowest it’s been in years there should be ample opportunity for diligent students to get a job at 14 years and 9 months. That’s what I did. I worked as a check out chap at a local supermarket before I turned 15 years old. It taught me so much about the ‘real’ world and enabled me to buy my first parcel of shares. There are many benefits to having a part time job. I was able to fund a 12 day voyage on the Young Endeavour tall sailing ship, spend a year in Sweden as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and buy the toys that all teenage boys love. Years later

while recruiting university graduates for a global consulting firm I quickly learned that graduates who worked through college are more attractive to employers. They have learnt responsibility in the work place and can balance work, family, sporting and social activities. A part time job will enable you to achieve these things and help you save for college education. If parents have the ability to fund a child’s college education, I’m all for it on two conditions - as long the parents don’t go into debt, and as long as the young person is taught financial responsibility. Failing to teach financial responsibility by completely supporting children through college may result in character flaws in the child. If a student is entirely supported by parents he is sheltered from the ramifications of his actions, and may not care how many subjects he fails, how many times he changes course or how much money is wasted on extended time at college. Why should he when Mum and Dad are paying? The best place to invest savings set aside for education depends on the time frame. I recommend a high interest paying, low frills, and no fees, at call, internet or phone banking account with a bank or quality financial institution. If you have four to seven years to invest I would invest at least some of the savings into a Listed Investment Company

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such as Australian Foundation Investment Company, an Exchange Traded Fund or an index fund with international diversification. Scholarships Scholarships are a great way to fund tertiary education. The Commonwealth Learning Scholarships (CLS) program provides financial support to eligible undergraduates to assist with higher education costs. There are two scholarships – one for general education costs and one for accommodation costs. The scholarships are administered on behalf of the Australian Government by individual higher education providers. The providers are responsible for conducting their own application and selection procedures in line with Government guidelines. Contact your college to see if you are eligible for a scholarship. There are also a plethora of scholarships provided by various corporations, universities, church groups and foundations. Investigate the opportunities. Sometimes they are not available until the second or third year of the course. Your college student services office is a good place to start. Other income sources Centrelink is a potential source of funds for living expenses during college. Payments including the Youth Allowance (16-24 years olds)

Postgraduate study in CHRISTIAN Research & education MEd, EDUCATION NATIONAL professional MEd (Leadership), vision community partnership development GradDipEd in Christian education for over 30 years Unfolding our place in God’s big story

National Institute for Christian Education 12/10/2016 10:34 AM

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Find a Christian College. and AUSTUDY (25 years and over) have eligibility criteria including an income and asset test. Students can earn up to $6,000 p.a. without it affecting their allowance. There is no reason why you shouldn’t work during term or at least during the long summer break. Awards can be another source of funds for the diligent college student. I managed to receive two prizes at university. One was a book prize that was nice but didn’t help the hip pocket. The other was a cash prize, which certainly came in handy. Another opportunity I jumped at during university was an industry based learning year. This involved taking a year out from study to work within two corporations. Sometimes called sandwich years, they are a great opportunity to earn income and gain experience. The income generated enabled me to pay off my HECS debt (and receive a 15% discount for doing so) and fund a five

month trip around the world before commencing full time employment. Funding options Commonwealth loans There are three types of loans available to fund your tertiary education provided by the Commonwealth under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP): • HECS-HELP is a loan available to eligible Commonwealth supported students to cover all or part of their student contribution amount. • FEE-HELP loan is available to eligible fee-paying students to cover all or part of their tuition fees. Limit is $80,000 or $100,000 depending on the course. • OS-HELP is available to assist eligible undergraduate Commonwealth supported students to undertake some of their course of study overseas. Limit of $5,196 that can be

accessed twice over your lifetime. I would not even consider the FEE-HELP or OS-HELP as there is a loan fee of 20% of the amount borrowed. Other options I would avoid are bank loans and credit cards. Work and study part time, seek out a cheaper institution. If you are suffering genuine hardship let it be known in your local church. We supported an international student who experienced financial difficulty six months before completing her degree when funding from her home country ceased after the death of a family member. So go ahead be weird, swim against the tide, stay out of debt and reap the rewards. Gavin Martin | Managing Director and Financial Adviser Cornerstone Wealth Pty Ltd www.cornerstonewealth.com.au

Bible College of SA Bible College SA has a rich history of equipping men and women to more effectively serve Christ throughout the world and a reputation for providing quality biblical study programs that serve as a foundation for life-long gospel ministry. BCSA is the only provider of the Australian College of Theology programs in SA. Fee-help & Austudy approved. Cross-institutional credit options. Address: 176 Wattle Street, Malvern, Adelaide, SA , 5061 Phone: (08) 8291 8188 Email: registrar@biblecollege.sa.edu.au Website: www.biblecollege.sa.edu.au Kingsley College Our ministry focuses on equipping lay people and ministerial candidates for Christian ministry in their communities and local church. Kingsley College is the ministry training arm of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Australia with a student body drawn from many different backgrounds. Through eleven training centres around Australia we work hard to ‘develop and equip people to shape their world’. Headquarters: 1/21 Lakeside Drive, Broadmeadows VIC 3047 Phone: (03) 9357 3699 Mobile: 0423 127 199 Email: kingsley@kingsley.edu.au Website: www.kingsley.edu.au Sydney Missionary & Bible College (SMBC) Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) is the oldest interdenominational Bible College in Australia. Marking it’s 100th birthday in 2016, the college continues to focus on teaching the Bible and training men and women for all kinds of ministry around the world. Phone: +61 2 9747 4780 Address: 43 Badminton Road, Croydon NSW 2132, Australia Email: admin@smbc.edu.au | Website: smbc.edu.au 26 Christian Woman Spring 2016


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• • • •

Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 27


OLIVIA

ALEXANDER

is

an

internationally awarded visual artist whose work expresses the glory of God’s creation. Having been a born again Christian for 38 years, Olivia’s faith is fundamental to her art practice and she has witnessed God opening doors around the world for her artistic expression to be seen. Taken from a place of brokenness to an anointed gifting, Olivia shares her story...

Right: Chrysalis; Below: Olivia in the studio

28 Christian Woman Spring 2016


Inspiring story.

WHEN THE BROKEN PIECES BECOME THE GIFT

“W

hen they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” Luke 6:12 In 2001 I turned 40 years old. I was expecting it to be a great year. Up till that time things had been pretty difficult but as a family we had decided to make some major changes. To be honest life felt like a roller coaster, out of control. Many years of too much work, too much stress and other situations in our family life had taken its toll, in more ways than one. I had been a Christian since I was a teenager of 17 and in 1984 I married Ian and became a stepmom to two boys and our family grew as we added two daughters of our own to the equation. Like most people I had dreams and hopes for the future, but life doesn’t always work out how we expect or dream. I had been serving in different areas of ministry for many years with little break but I was not following what God had really placed in my heart, and at that stage I wasn’t even sure what it was. I realize now that my Christian walk had become about pleasing people around me till I no longer knew who I was or what God had really called me to. A Dark Night of the Soul One morning, whilst out on my prayer walk I cried out to the Lord, “Father something’s not right but I don’t know how to fix it. Please do what you have to and change it.”

Several days later I awoke unable to get out of bed. My whole body shook, I couldn’t eat, too weak to even sit up all I could do was weep and wonder what on earth was happening. Like Alice in Wonderland I felt like I had fallen down a black hole but in fact my body had completely shut down with massive burnout which is a nice way of saying, I was having a breakdown. Seeing God in the Brokenness I can’t describe the anguish or the darkness that threatened to consume me. “God where are you? What’s happening?” Years later I can look back and see God there. I can see what happened and why. But at the time I was confused, I had been serving God hard for many years, but in actual fact I was working to try and earn my salvation which is an impossible task. Over the coming months and years the Lord began to teach me about his mercy, love and grace. It was a time of great anguish and trial but fortunately I had a loving supportive husband, a Bible based church and Christians friends who helped me through and God was able to do a new thing in me. During those early years I often prayed, “Lord don’t let me become bitter but use this brokenness for your glory.” I went through periods of grief and sometimes even anger, at God and at others. I struggled with thoughts of failure and wondering how God could ever use me. I felt broken and discarded but still I

prayed, “God use this for your glory.” Birth of A Dream Part of my recovery from burnout was to learn to rest and rediscover who I was. This was a new concept for me as resting in God was not something I had been familiar with. As part of that rest I decide to pick up my pencils and visual diary and start drawing again. Art had been a natural gift all my life but I had largely ignored it thinking it wasn’t spiritual enough for God to use. I still remember being in such a fragile state but as I began to draw, God the father whispered into my heart that He had something for me in art. Just a tiny flicker at first but it slowly ignited into something bigger. A dream was birthed! Laying It All Down Over the past 15 years I have regularly laid my gift of art and myself before God as I am very aware that apart from him I can do nothing. Even trusting him when fatigue overtakes me, a lasting reminder of the damage that burnout can cause and as I wait for him to bring complete physical healing and restoration. Art may not be a platform ministry gift but it is all I have to give him. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they

Join the conversation online: www.christianwomanmag.com 29


Inspiring story.

“One day I’m teaching art to a group of women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, another day I’m ministering by email to someone over the other side of the world whose child is dying of cancer and then on another day I’m in Paris before an audience of several hundred people, receiving a coveted award in recognition of my dedication in art.”

also what scares me the most! I have to trust Him and have faith. It’s not easy to make it in the art world and I also need to make an income to live on which is another challenge to my faith. One day I’m teaching art to a group of women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, another day I’m ministering by email to someone over the other side of the world whose child is dying of cancer and then on another day I’m in Paris before an audience of several hundred people, receiving a coveted award in recognition of my dedication in art. My Art IS My Gift and So Are the Broken Pieces There are several ways God uses my art. When I paint I start by writing a prayer of salvation, healing and blessing on the canvas. I work in multiple layers of acrylics, inks and water colours capturing my interpretation of God’s amazing creation. As I paint I fill my studio with praise music and I pray and ask God to guide me and anoint my work. Over the past seven years my artwork has travelled the world, literally and by the Lord’s grace I have been awarded nine international awards. Doors have also opened for me to teach art to groups in the community who are fragile and vulnerable. Particularly women who have suffered childhood sexual abuse. The Lord has used art in my life to help bring healing and to give me a voice. Being able to understand and experience brokenness has helped me to use the gift of art with these groups and hopefully show His love in the process.

Top: Deep Calls to Deep; Above: Dawn Songs

wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” John 6:9-12 Never would I have imagined he would open the doors he has. I was recently asked in an interview what I most liked about my work. What I most like is that I never know what God is going to do, but it’s 30 Christian Woman Spring 2016

Give What You Have No Matter How Small He has done amazing things. Yes, I’ve worked hard to develop my gift but one thing I’ve learnt is to give what you have to God. No matter what your gift is, whether it’s art, music, even cake baking or just having the skill to listen, lay it before God and see where he can take it. I share my story here in the hope that it will encourage you. Just as Jesus used two small fish and some loaves of bread to feed thousands he can use whatever you give him, no matter how small and he won’t even waste the broken pieces or the failures in your life. Trust God to do what you can’t. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 www.OliviaAlexanderArt.com


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CW September 2016