People

There’s an old song that Barbara Streisand used to sing called “People” in which it says that ‘people who need people are the luckiest people in the world’. I wouldn’t use the word ‘luckiest’ as I don’t believe in luck of any kind. The sentiments of this song, however, are great! We’re designed in our DNA to need people.

Every person is unique – even identical twins! Such is the skill of our Creator God who even makes each grain of sand and every snowflake and stripy pattern on zebras completely different. There is something very special and wonderful about every individual on this planet and we all need each other. We were made to relate. Even the drunkard who sings ‘Jesus blood hasn’t failed me yet!’ becomes a blessing and who people can relate to.. When I first heard this song sung by this dear man, I was moved to tears as the truths in that statement are wonderful.

The person we most need in life is of course the One who made us and knows us like no other, Jesus Christ himself. He made provision for us people by sending his Holy Spirit to us when we believe in Him so that we are never alone and can do exploits in Jesus’ name. “Without Me'” He said, “You can do nothing” (John 15:5) clever though we think we are sometimes. He made us to have a God shaped hole within us that only He can fill so that we develop a personal relationship with the One who made the universe and sustains it. So as we learn to lean and rely on Him in and for everything we do, then He gets the credit He deserves.

One of our books in ‘The Creation Series’ for reading to 3-4 year olds is entitled ‘People’ and it shows so many nationalities as well as the very first people who messed things up for the rest of us. Children need to know that there is an answer for them when they mess things up, too. Jesus is our rescuer, coming all the way from heaven to us because He loved us and continues to love and pray for us, too, even now.

Let’s keep blessing one another with kindness and love, giving preference to one another in humility. Jesus said that people would know we are Christians because we love one another. ” If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (John 15:35 – Good News Bible). Let’s do this and teach our children to do this, too. Then our love for God will be seen and realised and many will be drawn to trust Him as well..

Who You Know

We see a lot of good around and folk are so eager to help when there is a crisis. However, to love God enables us to love our fellow man/woman/child more and there are extra benefits also. One of my favourite verses from the Bible is “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God who are the called according to His purpose.” (New King James Bible) As we love God He weaves His purposes out and makes everything work together for good – even tragedies.

Many children have experienced so much tragedy that to even describe it makes us squirm. Children continually need that anchor of the Word of God (The Bible – yes and Jesus who is also called this – see John 1:1). Jesus made a careful plan when He left our world. He sent the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts (to be like Jesus with us) when we become Christians so that we are never alone. God knew that the experiences in this life on this planet would be very difficult for each of us in different ways so He provided the Comforter to help us. Children can easily call out for help and as they reach their extremities in various situations then it is almost natural for them to call out to the Father of all.

‘Diamond Books’ provide beautifully illustrated material for children to learn more about great Father God who loves them continually. Here in the UK, not much teaching in homes or in schools is given to the facts that God loves and God has a plan and that Jesus is the centre of life and can be for each individual. So children easily miss what is available to them. ‘Diamond Books’ redresses this inbalance and allows a child to explore origins, the meaning of life and the answer to the mess that Adam and Eve left the human race in. At the same time, children can develop good reading habits and have fun, too.

Then children can be even more educated than some of the adults around them as they connect with God for themselves. “A little child will lead them” (from Isaiah 11:6) seems poignant and relevant here as children can sometimes take the lead with trusting Jesus and put their parents/teachers to shame. Let’s not silence or make fun of children when they simply trust the God who made them, as their education is their life knowing who they know!

PS Let’s not put a stumbling block in the way of children knowing Jesus, the greatest One to know!

Come

I’m returning to this simple word that means so much. I think that this word is one of God’s favourites as he wants everyone in the whole wide world to come to him so that he can love each of us. God’s love is so immense and yet so often overlooked as we focus on the negatives around and the things we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste.

God requires us to have a simple faith as we take God at his word. The words in Matthew 11 come to mind that are so incredibly comforting, helpful and sustaining.

In the Contemporary English Bible Matthew 11:28-30 reads (and this version is even better read aloud!) – Jesus Christ is speaking:-

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.”

Jesus encouraged little children to come to him and warned the disciples not to hinder them for theirs is the kingdom of God – possibly more easily  gained by them than us adults. Jesus actually warned us that if we put an obstacle in front of a child it would be better for us that a millstone crushed us as in God’s sight allowing a child easy access to him is priority in his eyes. We’re to be like children, too – not childish but childlke just simply believing what God says in his word, the Bible, and not questioning what he says.

So, be encouraged in your quest to develop your child’s potential, to come in as many ways as you can to Jesus, whether through reading the Bible or a book about him or watching a film to inspire your interest in him. Be sure to emphasise Jesus as being the one who we come to as he is “the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me,” said Jesus in John 14:6. One simple way is to give children books about God that will inspire them to learn more which is why we would recommend ‘The Creation Series’ written to be read to 3–4 year olds but enjoyed by older children too as they read it for themselves. There’s an Activity Book and a Creation Sounds CD and Songbook to go with it too – just order from our website.

 

Overwhelmed

Sometimes what life throws at us can overwhelm us. I think that this is an experience that probably all humans face some time or other.

Particularly when the unexpected happens, it can throw us in all directions. The emotional toll of such happenings can be underestimated and of course the pressures and stresses can show themselves in physical illnesses. We weren’t meant to live life on our own which is why when Jesus rose from the dead he sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in those who wanted Him and recognised their need of support and indeed a Saviour in the circumstances of life.

The Bible has something very valid to say about being overwhelmed. In the Psalms, King David poured out his heart in words and he wrote, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you (referring to God) who know my way…” (Psalm 142:3 New International version). We can be comforted that God knows the way and the way through each situation we may face. In the next Psalm he states “So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.” (Psalm 143:4 – NIV) after he explains how the enemy he knew was crushing him to the ground. Whether a physical enemy that David had to face or a pressure or stress from the enemy of our souls (satan) David was able to gain help from the Rock that was higher than him. ‘Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I’ is the words of an old song but it describes a present reality still.

Sometimes children can feel overwhelmed and they can express this in all sorts of different ways including anger, moodiness, naughty misdemeanors and even more drastic behaviour that can include violence and hatred. We need to let children that there is someone higher and bigger than even the adults around them who can help them through their troubles. Let’s not deny children their heritage which is to know God and enjoy him forever.

Diamond Books remind children of the simple truths of the Bible that are so practical and a blessing. May the different facets of God’s character be reflected in the many facets of each of the books of this project for the benefit of every child that opens, looks and reads them so that the overwhelming feelings of human life can be more alleviated by them and indeed by the God who inspired them.

Mercy

With all the carnage in Paris and all the talk about revenge, I wonder what God thinks of it all.

One of the foundation stones that I was given in picture form when I first embarked on writing ‘Diamond Books’ was ‘mercy’. I can be a judgmental person and easily look on the outside of situations and make a judgment. However, I never know all the facts about various situations that I look at and so I have no right to judge anyone. There is only one consistent and accurate judge, God himself.

As we Christians are being formed to be like Christ, I need to learn that what I see isn’t necessarily what it looks like at first appearances.

In every tragedy, there are people who hurt. Even when suicide bombers blow themselves apart, there are parents of those people who hurt and grieve as they were their offspring. Anger produces murder and when needs are unmet and frustrations develop, a person can get onto the boil easily. We all blow it in this life as we are human and we can learn to show mercy to those who have made really poor choices which may have affected others. Because, we as humans are basically selfish, we easily scream for our rights but God shows mercy and undeserved favour to all of us sometime during our lives.

Forgiveness isn’t a word we use very often especially in the society that we live in. However, this is key to being free and it allows us to show mercy on those who have offended us or hurt us. It’s so hard when youngsters have been taken through the cowardly acts of people who have allowed evil to take them over. It’s easy to ask ‘why’ but there are always consequences when evil men take over the peace of our lands.

However, there is light when mercy is given as it opens the door to a fresh start. God has a wonderful habit of weaving everything together for good especially to those who love God. Those who don’t know God are missing out so much and it may be that tragedies that we have witnessed recently are a means of making a wake up call for each of us to get our lives right with God. Then, we can receive more of the blessings and mercy of God that are couched and bathed in love.

Children need to know that God is merciful and ready to forgive whatever we do. I was reminded recently that the most securest place on earth is under the  shadow of God’s wing – He is like a mother hen who wants to protect and look after his own. As we become his (and this is for all) then He takes responsibility for us and we simply just need to follow Him. He has good paths ahead for each of us and children need to be assured of this for themselves, too – hence the books we provide that help to anchor children into all that is good and wholesome.

Righteousness

In the foundation picture that the Lord gave me at the start of this project, there were several unnamed stones for quite some time. The foundation picture consists of 9 stones, 4 of which have been already named and studied.

The next 3 stones were named during a housegroup at our church in Birmingham. Our housegroup leader’s wife was praying and she mentioned Mercy, Truth and Righteousness and I felt the Holy Spirit indicate to me that these were the names of the next 3 stones for the foundation picture He was unfolding to me.

Righteousness is something we cannot earn or work for or even be born with. It can come only through a very good Friend of mine who gave His life for me. Jesus’ blood can actually cover my sins – a wonderful revelation and then we are accounted as righteous. Have a read of the early chapters of the book of Romans in the Bible – it makes fantastic reading (especially Romans, chapter 8).

My job in being given God’s righteousness is to maintain a close walk with God so that when/if I do sin (because as Christians it is the norm not to sin) then I have an advocate who will stand on my behalf before God and will acquit me as ‘not guilty’ when I confess my sins to him. I need to keep my slate clean and come before Him for His cleansing moment by moment in order for His righteousness to keep in operation. Being a sensitive being, I am easily aware of things in my life that are not right. God is at work in changing me but as soon as I bring these things to him, I am righteous before God even if I have to suffer the consequences of a wrong choice etc.

I can actually be free to live life as God intended all of us to live, not limited or feeling guilty about the shackles of sin. I can be one of the happiest people on earth and be blessed with a clear conscience as I live in His righteousness which God clothes me with. We are told to put on the breastplate of righteousness which in fact covers our heart – the centre and source of our earthly life.

Children need to experience forgiveness in very practical ways. They can realise the qualities of God’s righteousness which can make them know that when sin is confessed to God it is just as if they have never sinned before God. God’s righteousness can actually show them His enormous love for who else would be able to cover their sins and put these into the depths of the sea and forget them? So often we can forgive but it is harder to forget what someone might have done to us but God gives us a greater example. How we need to communicate all this to our children who are in need of the loving arms of Jesus continually.

So I and each of us have a huge responsibility to keep our lives pure before God so that people around can see God’s righteousness not any self righteousness or pride or haughtiness or even self effacing actions that try to make us look righteous (while hiding our true state). Let’s be real and free from hypocrisy and let God make us more and more like Himself – His doing alone! Then children have an example before them to follow. They can then follow God as we follow, too..

Pressure

I do and I don’t work well under pressure. So often the pressure I face is of my own making. However, to get the balance in life is never easy and I certainly am not good at this. However, I do seem to rise to a challenge after the initial shock of finding out what it is!
Jesus knew about the pressures we would face and gave us His word to help us in our dilemmas. He said,
“If you are tired from carrying burdens,come to Me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light” Matthew 11:28-30 (Contemporary English version of the Bible). It’s doing what he says that counts and can give us rest. We can cease striving from our own way of doing things and learn his way of working which is far more restful than the usual run of things.
With 973 days to go to complete the writing of this project, I need to learn that there is no pressure to finish. This project is God’s work – he happens to be using me and my wonderful team of people for this but he could have used anyone. He is the Father Manager of it all – I just need to listen more and then be more obedient.
I’m aware that the apostle Paul had a huge number of pressures and challenges (see the long list in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28). Yet, he did not succumb to self pity or revenge or unforgiveness. He kept going believing the best and endeavouring to bless those who were doing him harm. God only allows what he wants for each of our lives and he makes no mistakes even if from a human standpoint a situation might seem disastrous or even hopeless. God has a wonderful way of weaving everything together for good (Romans 8:28).
So as we seek to enter the rest of God, ceasing from our own works and doing his, our children will catch on and learn perhaps even earlier in their lives than we did (or in my case learning to do) that the Christian life is all about abiding in God’s love so that His fruit of love ie patience, self-control, goodness, kindness, peace, faithfulness and gentleness can be evident to all.

All is Well

Even when setbacks come and disappointments trouble us, God has a plan. We are required in everything to give thanks for this is God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We are to give thanks which often requires a sacrifice as we may not feel like doing this.

Our lips can speak what we know is true regardless of our feelings or circumstances then as we act in faith, God can do great things through us and also in spite of us.

Our children need to learn about giving God thanks in all situations and God’s word helps them to be thankful. When they and we see all that God has created around us we can’t but help give Him thanks. The fact that most of us have eyes to see colour and beauty and the variety of His creation is amazing in itself. We have so much and are lavished with God’s goodness.

May all the children in the world appreciate how good God is and may they be led by us adults to give thanks and praise to Who it is due. Without God, we would not even have breath to be alive. Oh the wonder and power of God shown to us so vividly in the person of Jesus Christ who when he was a man on earth children loved to be with. They ran to him as he was like a magnet of the love they needed. Also, today, when children hear of Jesus, they love him and learn to thank Him.

Let’s feed our children with God’s word and let them see the beauty of all that He has made. ‘The Creation Series’ can help with this so children can appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of all his creation. Not even a grain of sand or a snowflake is identical to another and we humans are all different! How hugely amazing is the God who made us all.

A New Season

As well as it being summer, something drastic happened to me. A month ago today my husband died unexpectedly – not really dead as I am sure he has gone to be with Jesus in the home prepared for him – his real home forever. He had aggressive metastatic (I think that’s how it is spelled) pancreatic cancer which was only diagnosed 26 days before he left this earth. He had been in hospital for 67 days in total.

The time spent in hospital with my dear, Mike, was a very precious time for us. Mike had been working exceedingly hard as he found his body more comfortable standing up and being active. He only stopped his work just 10 days before admission to hospital. We actually had time for each other and were able to share so much. We planned to be less busy when he was well again and create a greater balance in our lives, prioritising our relationship far more. However, this was not be be put into practice.

We, together with many Christian brothers and sisters all over the place, prayed for Mike’s healing. We believe that all disease and ill health is not from God and so we were confident that God was very much on our side as we prayed with simple faith. We sensed that we were nearly breaking through in prayer, too.

However, on the Friday before Mike died, the medics pronounced that he only had hours to live so we got the prayer troops into the hospital quickly and began to worship God with a lovely instrument in our midst too. Heaven came down into the ward it seemed although I was upset thinking that he would be healed and would stay on earth for more time. Mike actually rallied after this and the next day was very alert even watching a DVD with his brother.

Then on the Sunday (the following day) Mike was not alert at all and was very restful and peaceful. Then in the evening he just slipped away while I was giving him a swab for his mouth.

On reflection, I realised that maybe Mike had had a taste of heaven that Friday and once any of us gets a glimpse then we want to be there. We think that this is probably what happened. God never goes against our will and if Mike had a desire to go to be with the Lord (who to be with is so much better than being here) what can be said adversely.

So now, it is definitely a new season for me. When a child loses a loved one especially a parent there is such a loss and gap in the family. However, Jesus is such a comfort and lifts our chin up. Children especially can experience this, too, as their simple faith and trust in God is so much purer and even more meaningful than what we adults have. Let’s always bring Jesus into the grasp of little ones and not deny them Him (who is closer than a human parent) when they have a loss in their lives. Then they, like me, can know God better and receive His immense love that flows over our tears and reminds us of His unfailing love that’s available to us every day of our earthly lives as well as forever.

‘The Jesus Series’ of 16 books for 4-5’s to read themselves is being published at the moment which can give so much foundation about who Jesus is and what He can do. Look out for it and if you want to order this set of books just contact me. Look out for the ‘taster’ books – you may well be able to order and receive individual books of this series very soon.

Who can I trust?

In today’s world it’s very hard to know. However, there is a litmus test that helps us and we can find wisdom to know this.

We all let each other down as people as we have that tendency of thinking about me and doing things our own way and this can rub up other people. It can even get people to be hostile. As we have opposition in our lives, our trust in people can diminish and sometimes we can build walls around us so that we become untouchable especially emotionally. Someone very close to me has done just that. Somehow trust needs to be built up again but how?

The only way I know is to bring God into the picture. He is totally trustworthy and can be depended upon even when circumstances look grim or impossible. God specialises in doing what we can’t, so as we surrender to him, then he can have access to us and show us the wise way forward. Because we are all so individual there is no one way forward – He has the right pathway for us all so that we can be healed, set free and made whole. He weaves all our circumstances, particularly the difficult ones, into good if we let him have his way (see Romans 8:28 in any translation of the Bible).

As Christians we belong to the family of God. Because we are not alone in our walk with God, he places people beside us that we can learn to confide in and pray with. Prayer is the key to so many things. God invites us to ask him for wisdom even with our relationships. If there are difficulties here, which are inevitable, we can first of all pray about these alone, then we can share them with a person who has proved their friendship with us through the test of time or with a relative or family friend. If there is no-one that you feel one can share with then keep praying about it and let God bring to you someone of his choice to help you here. God never deceives us and if we earnestly pray for an answer, he can be trusted to provide the solution.

We need to trust people despite their tendencies (and mine too) to fail. We can put things right when something does go wrong in a relationship, forgive and go on. If we have doubts about a person’s integrity or morality or genuineness, then we can learn to be careful and test out their character. Leaning on people can be a problem but we can always lean on God as he is a strong support who can take us through anything and give us the discernment as to who to confide in.

Our children need to be learn this and be wise, too. The sooner they connect with their Maker and Lover the better as then they will have access to the One who can help and lead and give all the advice that is necessary for them to walk through life.

Basics apply for children in our dangerous world. They include not talking with strangers, not accepting anything that makes them feel uncomfortable and being brave to tell a teacher or parent that they feel something is wrong that is happening around them or to them. Christians can be a huge help to children as they are accountable to God. If they are genuine, honest and reliable then a child can trust them and engage with the One who made and loves us all.