How to deal with periods.

None of us like menstruation. It’s not nice when you’ve got something like a hangry parakeet clawing through the good ol’ uterus wall; kinda feels like you’re the stomach contents of a sewer rat. So how do we deal with this?

Well, punching your annoyingly in-the-way brother, venting your inner volcano on your parents through the lava of mid-menstrual expletives and arguing with all of your friends constitute a good start…

No. Nononononono. As women, we’re stronger than that. And you know why? Because of ‘Christ who strengthens’. That’s the only reason, Ms Stomach-Contents-of-a-Sewer-Rat.

When pain claws through our very being, we can ‘soar like eagles’. We’ve been ‘knit in the womb’, we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, God has ‘sent [us] and known [us]’, He sent his ‘one and only Son’ to die for us.

I’ve been married to the wonderful Joshua Hawkes for six months now. He’s an amazing man. But it’s not always easy to be nice – not even to the best non-divine in the world. Believe me, there have been days where I’ve lashed out, grumped on him and neglected him selfishly on my period.

I am human after all.

Breathe those words in. Inhale them in their entirety – ingest the full meaning.

We are human. That means that we are the ‘image’ of God. We are ‘created by him and through him’. We are his daughters.

It also means that Jesus has been – and is – in his incarnate being just like us. Cliché verse, but girl you need it, so I’m gonna say it whether you like it or not: ‘For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15).

And Jesus is still on the right hand of God ‘interceding’ for us as the ‘one Mediator between God and man’. Isn’t that amazing.

Jesus was manifested as a man in his incarnate form. So he didn’t suffer the pain, hormonal imbalance and discomfort of periods. But unlike the males in your life, whether they be a father, brother, uncle, grandfather, friend, boyfriend or husband, he truly understands your situation.

Honestly.

Not like the abovementioned lovelies who may try so hard to comprehend our situation, Jesus really can and will suffer next to you. After the famous Great Commission in Matthew 28, Jesus made a significant promise: ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the age (the world, or time)’.

Woah. Reread that.

Jesus hasn’t only fulfilled his promise to send the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) in his physical absence from this Earth, He’s also promised to remain with us.

So next time you feel alone, misunderstood, yuk, angry and down during your period, don’t vent this into the people in your life.

Tell you what, I’ll let you in on something. As I’m writing this, my uterus is crying out in pain. I’m having to take breaks every few words because it’s so acute. But focusing on how I can honour God through this frustrating and trying experience (in so many ways ahhhh) is helping me.

It’s directing my focus away from the pain, the period, myself, in essence – and towards God and others.

Which in this instance, at least for me, is helpful. Not focusing on the problem which is unsolvable, and redirecting your attention to other issues that can be solved.

Like the washing-up, if you can; or hugging your mum or friend if they need it and are there; or just smiling when it’s so hard.

I don’t think this is escapism. I think this is re-direction. Understanding the problem is there, but partially solving it by acknowledging the larger picture, if that makes sense.

Ultimately, too, the larger picture that we share our brothers and sisters in Christ, is heaven. Consider that for a moment. One day Christ will ‘wipe away every tear’; He, the only one who truly understands us, will be with us forever; there will be no more pain, or fear, or discomfort.

All will be well because of what Christ has achieved on the cross.

So remember where you’re going, sister.

Your path lies heavenward.

And it’s not just a hormonal fantasy! It’s a reality in our Lord.

So stay strong.

Because not only are you a massively strong woman, brave and bold – the source of your strength means that you will always succeed.

You are and will always be, undefeated.

In the end Satan and pain and death and hurt and tears and negative emotion will be defeated.

And good will triumph.

Remembering the Wars: 100 years since the end of WWI

On the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 2018 we shall stop to remember once more all those who have fallen in conflict. I like to remember more than just the last century: for all those who have died to conflict; I think of the warfare of the Thirty Years War and remember the great destruction caused by conflict and war. But what makes this year even more special is that it is also marks a hundred years since the end of the First World War.

Why is it important to remember?

The conflict was one of the worst this world has seen, and remembering it is important. The First World War teaches us many lessons, it warns us of the danger of nationalism. It shows the dangers of the glorification of warfare and battles. It demonstrates the futility of war. These lessons are ones we should never forget, for the sake of all.

It’s not a political or national event

Remembering is not only for those killed on ‘our side’ so to speak, but it’s for all, remembering that these were real people – on both sides – who gave their lives for their respective nations. These were individuals who lived lives just like ourselves, had dreams and ambitions, who loved and were loved. Each one had a story, and each one should be remembered in kind. Remembering should never be a political event, but one where we all stop, reflect and be thankful for those who died, who came back, and for the lives we live now.

Remembering should not just be sombre, but joyful

Interestingly, in the years after the First World War, Armistice Day was actually a joyous occasion, people celebrated their lives. Today we mark it with silence and sobriety, and quite rightly as we pause to reflect. At the same time however, remembrance should also be a joyous act – that we have lives to celebrate, lives given to us by a great God, and freedom because of what happened in those dreadful years.

Remembering as a Christian

I think Remembrance Day and all that comes with it is an important act for the church. The Bible often talks about remembering the past, and this day gives us an opportunity to do so. But we should never get involved in the politics of it. May we just remember and give thanks for those who gave so much for us. May we not stop learning from the past, and at the same time, may we not live in the past. It is very easy to start comparing generations and time periods, but that takes away from the point of remembering. Be thankful, be joyful, and be respectful – it is important.

The church should also remember sacrifice.  After all our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed it all when he died on the cross for us; these men and women sacrificed their lives for peace and for us.

The First World War was meant to end all wars, but it never did. More warfare would follow, and millions of lives would be lost. Warfare does not solve anything, may we pray for peace and love to overflow in our hearts in the present age.

Forgetfulness – Part 2: Missing the bus

Mention ‘The End Times’ to Christians and you will get one of two reactions: a low groan — ‘here we go again’ or a heated all-night debate. I believe this is a large part of our ‘forgetfulness’ problem with regard to the Return of Christ. To cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the end-times are everything; even to greatly-blessed ministers like John MacArthur the focus on his pre-millennialism theory can be OTT. Satan can cause the best of us to read far too much into the — mostly symbolic —numbers in Revelation to find out the date that Jesus clearly states ‘no man, no angel, not even I know’ (Matthew 24:36). Superstitious nonsense that people fall for – even the elect (Matthew 24:24). Revelation is an amazing and joyous book, more about Jesus than anything else; yet our obsession with these matters seems to kill it to the point where it becomes entirely unprofitable. Some people make it seem like the whole gospel itself is hinged on the thousand years or the number of the beast… Where is Jesus? Where is the cross?

Taking a leaf out of Paul’s book

Paul’s advice to both Titus and Timothy (young pastors) was to discourage talk over such matters, that we are never likely to resolve:

“Stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.” (Titus 3:9).

“Command certain people not […] to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk.” (1 Timothy 1:3-6).

That is not to say that we should not eagerly look into these things and work out our stance on these issues. Yet there is doctrine that is surely so much more important than these things — which can so often be divisive red-herrings and unprovable from Scripture. Instead we should look into what is profitable and honouring to the Lord — how about adoption, your privileges in Christ, the trinity, Jesus’ deity, etc.? — be a Berean (Acts 17:11) and check what your pastor says lines up with Scripture!

What should we do?

All the while we’re squabbling over the finer-points of the End Times in our hermit-holes, people are dropping into hell in their hundreds and thousands, every day. There’s a world dying out there!! For crying out loud brothers and sisters! Let’s get out there with the Gospel before it is too late and Jesus does return. God, in His infinite sovereign mercy has given us a role in the salvation of souls —as ambassadors of Christ  (2 Corinthians 5:20). I fear I, and perhaps others too, will have a lot to answer for on the day of judgement — ‘Why didn’t you warn people? I gave you friends, neighbours, colleagues and family to witness to, I gave you gifts to use for the work of My church; I told you to ask for more of My Spirit and I would give it you. Did I not tell you to go out into all the world and make disciples of all the nations?’

What will we say? What are our excuses now? ‘Oh I’m too busy with life’, ‘I don’t like talking to people’, ‘I’m not gifted in that way’, … There once was an atheist who said that one big reason he does not believe is because, if what the Bible says is true, Christians would be out warning everybody all the time and they’re not… — why believe a book about a man, if His followers don’t even seem to believe it?

The most selfish thing we can possibly do is not to share Jesus. The Casting Crowns song ‘Love you with the truth’ puts it brilliantly. Why has God let the world go on so long, considering His people were ready way back in the first century for His return? It’s because we know exactly when the world will end: when the last soul is saved, when the last of His flock is brought safely into the fold.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9).

What love!

On the last day, we will be saved ourselves yes, but won’t we miss out on so much more? Daniel 12 (see Matthew 25:21 too), speaking of the End Times, says:

“At that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” [emphasis added] (Daniel 12:1b-3).

The last part is often termed, ‘the soul-winners’ promise.’ Are we soul-winners? When was the last time we pointed someone to Christ? Let’s all cut the lukewarm cold-hearted worldly two-faced ‘Sunday Christianity’ baloney that seems to define us and pray that He will give us a glimpse of Christ, draw us closer to Himself, fill us with His Spirit and give us opportunities to witness of the Messiah. Let’s truly ‘Love our neighbours as ourselves’. What is more important than doing the Good Lord’s work?

A hymn we sung on Sunday encapsulated this brilliantly. I was only going to quote the last verse – but reading it again, I couldn’t bring myself to cut any of it!

May the mind of Christ my Saviour
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of Christ dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of Christ my Saviour
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me,
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.