Troubleshooting

When difficulties come, do you troubleshoot? Are you like me and like others to solve things for you?  I like to complete  and finish things but, when it comes to solving a problem, I think I’m lazy or can’t be bothered.

I’d like to learn to tackle troubles straight on and not avoid the challenges these present. To do this I would need to be alert, not tired and in a teachable mood with a good attitude. However, when these parameters are not in place then chaos can ensue.

God loves us to bring him our troubles and difficulties. He is the Master at unravelling tangles and he can give us his perspective and wisdom so that we can overcome. He can actually show us the steps to get over the challenges and hardships if only we would simply ask him.

The Psalmist says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1) or as the New Century Version of the Bible says, “God is our protection and our strength. He always helps in times of trouble.” So, let’s take him at his word. We can encourage children to take God at his word, too. They so easily have simple faith beyond what we adults have so it is never too early to learn some good habits.

Each of the 8 books that form ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books (aimed at reading to 3-4 year olds) has a Bible verse in it that can be memorised. Then, children can develop a bank of verses that they will remember all their lives. So, when in trouble, they can recall Psalm 46:1 (for instance) and be encouraged and call on their Maker to help them and He will!

Communication

How well do you communicate? I’m not so hot face to face but on paper, I’m in my element. However, we need to communicate well verbally in order to have relationships with anyone.

There are so many forms of communication these days, that one can get overwhelmed by the choices available. Keeping life simple enables us to prioritise our relationships and thus our communication.

What would you communicate if you could only speak for one minute? The ‘Just a Minute’ panel game on the radio is one of my favourite listening shows. Hilarious though it often is, the art of speaking on a topic for one minute is really challenging. How would you prioritise what to say and how to say it?

I find that when someone communicates with me on the premise that I am accepted and loved, whatever they have to tell me is palatable because the love couches the awkward words that might need to be said.  So, with God, he is succinct in what he says to us, e.g “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) No words are wasted in this quote and have a profound effect if taken individually. God speaks the truth in love and that is how I’d love to be able to communicate to everyone I meet especially to those close to me who we can easily injure with our words or have miscommunication happening.

God loves us all so much and our children need to hear that on a daily basis. He made the world to operate in love. He gave all that he had to the first people and also risked them making choices that would alter his plan for mankind although he knew what man and woman would choose at the beginning of time. See Book 8 of ‘The Creation Series’.

Let’s ask God to give us courage to couch our words in love even if they are difficult  to say in some situations. Let’s also encourage our children to similarly open up and communicate what’s happening in their hearts and lives especially their feelings in various situations they face perhaps at school. Then, as honesty prevails, trust can develop and our communications with others can form friendships and lasting conversations.

All-seeing God

How we like to hide and wear a mask before others. Can we do this with God? He is the All-seeing God and nothing escapes his gaze (see Psalm 139 in the Bible). Hence, our need as humans to fear God  and be in awe of him, continually.

I sometimes overeat and because my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (who is in every Christian) I need to look after it. If I knowingly eat more than I need, then I am abusing the body that God has given me. He sees when I binge or secretly grab chocolate over and above what is necessary. How I need the fear of God to stop these wrong choices I make.

We’re all so weak, even if we don’t like admitting it. Hence our need for a Saviour, who is practical with us and helps us with every detail of our lives. If we would just lean on him more and allow him to take the reins of our lives, then our situations would be more different.

In James 4:17 of the Bible, it says to know to do right and not to do it is sin, a word we don’t like to use these days, but it has ‘I’ in the middle of it and that’s what it is all about. As we surrender our lives to God, then he becomes central and we don’t have rights or preferences any more. Our time is his, our money is his, our relationships are governed by him and our very lives from beginning to end are his. So, we have some adjusting to do which comes as we yield and admit we can’t, then he does it in us. It’s amazing how He works! The weaker I am, the more stronger in me he becomes. I’m reminded of the words that John the Baptist used when he was preparing the way for Jesus’ 3 years of ministry “He must increase, I must decrease.” and as the Contemporary English Version reads in John 3:30 (a version of the Bible I would particularly recommend) “Jesus must become more important, while I become less important.” The Bible sums it up beautifully!

There is comfort, also, in realising that ‘God knows’, especially when we go through circumstances that others don’t see. We may be misunderstood or judged about something, but the fact that God sees and knows all about us individually is wonderful and very liberating.  Because God sees all, even the thoughts and motives of our mind, we need to continually cry (as David of old did in the Psalms) to God and say, ‘create in my a clean heart’, so that even these are under his control and please him.

When he sees us, his highest creation, he wants to reach and touch and love us like a parent does for a child. He is the ultimate Father (and mother all in one) and he makes each of us complete. So, let’s embrace this wonderful God who, even though he sees every part of us, complex as we are, loves us even in our worst and darkest moments. He came to rescue us, not condemn us and, as we come to him, we can find out that great love that he has for us.

Our children, also, need to know this unconditional love. Even when they mess up, they are still loved by God who can pick them up and start all over again. ‘Sorry’ and ‘I forgive you’ need to be well used words on our children’s lips. Then, they can learn to keep their slate clean before God and before others and have that proper self worth intact.

What an amazing, all-seeing God we have available to each of us.

Trust

How can we trust people? How do we trust God? There is no easy answer but to do it anyway! (Eating is in the doing!)

The wonderful thing about God is that he can be trusted as he has a proven track record.  He spoke through men (and women) about his purposes for Israel and even for the Messiah to come from Bethlehem. He has made so many promises which we can read about in the Bible and has fulfilled them.  There are some still to come to fruition but God has a plan and this will not be thwarted by the ideas of man.

To trust fellow humans is more difficult and often based on our experiences of people particularly in our formative years.  If a child is let down by parents, for example, then it is hard for him/her to form close relationships of trust as they get older.  However, God can bring an end to mistrust as we allow him to heal us from life’s experiences.

God formed and is sustaining our planet so we can fully trust his order of things and his ways of doing things even though different from what we might have done or might do. However, we can only trust someone if we get to know them and it is only as we become born again of God’s Spirit (see John, chapter 3) that the way becomes clear so that we can trust God even though the circumstances around us may not be that positive.

I was in a position on Wednesday when I attended the Christian Resources Exhibition in Manchester, England when I felt let down and disappointed.  On travelling home, I made a decision to trust God anyway and quoted that verse to myself “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 – New International Bible). I then considered all the positive things that had happened during the day and trusted God to work out all the dilemmas I couldn’t fathom myself. Then, I was at peace and saw the day as part of the overall plan in the work of Diamond Books.

I’m reminded about the verse, “I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2 – Authorised Bible). Trust is an antidote to fear. We can think of the what ifs and look back on the patterns that may have been negative in the past but in the now we can trust God and can learn to trust people as our fears subside. So trust is a powerful instrument placed in our hearts and minds that we can use to overcome adverse circumstances in particular.

Our children can learn to trust as we trust God for ourselves. They pick up what we adults do so it is a huge responsibility that God helps us with. Then we can be those models that reflect Christ and as God produces the fruit of his Spirit in us (see Galatians, chapter 5) then trust can develop.

We can trust God for the impossible.  I’ve seen this happen in my own experience and our children need to know this too. What is impossible with humans is very possible with God as he specialises in miracles! Let’s trust him to do beyond all that we could ask or think as we seek to let children know how much they are (and we are) loved by God.

Be still and know

I’m blessed with this comforting verse from Psalm 46:10 of the Bible. The New Century version says: “Be quiet and know that I am God. I will be supreme over the nations; I will be supreme in the earth.”

It’s jolly hard to be still and quiet when we are so used to noise and talk.  I’ve found a wonderful God slot on Premier Christian Radio just after midday on weekdays when a presenter (Dr Michael Jazz – I think that’s how you spell his name) leads his listeners into being still and knowing that God is in control in various aspects of life.  It’s highly recommended but we need to make being still a regular habit.

I sometimes go for a quiet day to the Sisters of Jesus Way in West Kirby on the Wirral, near to where I live and just changing the tempo of life and being still and quiet I find so amazingly wonderful. Sometimes, I just rest and not much transpires between me and my wonderful Saviour, Jesus. At other times I pour my heart out before him and then at other times I can be still and just feel his presence. There is nothing else or no one else to compare with this.

God knows how we humans get so busy.  We hardly have time to talk with our spouses and other people, let alone God. Being still and listening to God is a discipline in itself.

Our children need to learn to be still, too, as they will wear out quicker than we are. Balance and rest are so important rather than constant activity. As they look at creation, they can see the patterns of animals and their rest times which are so vital for their survival.  So with us.

Let’s make time to be still and know that God is God and give an example to our children. Take time to reflect with the books in ‘The Creation Series’ and snuggle up with a child to view his wonderful creations.

 

Death isn’t the End

I was so very sorry to hear about the death of Robin Williams.  Any death is sad but somehow this man made so many of us laugh and he gave us so much, so it is a tragedy to see that his own life was curtailed.

We can kid ourselves that this life is all there is when the truth is this is just a dress rehearsal about what is to come.  The choices we make here on planet Earth affect where we spend eternity and what we do there. We aren’t the judges of what happens thankfully but God has all the facts and he will do what is right at all times.

How do we educate our children about all this when all that they see, hear, smell, feel and taste is so tangible to them? The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom – so says the writer in the book of Proverbs in the Bible.  When children are taught and begin to realise that there is someone greater than their mum and dad and even greater than any ‘important’ person in the whole wide world, then they can begin to be in awe of the God who made everything.

To be told by any government that we can’t teach in our schools that God created the world is in my mind both shocking and inaccurate. Hence, the importance of us parents to teach Biblical truths to our young ones. Just as there are consequences in creation (in nature for example) so with us higher human creations there are consequences for not passing on truths that have been part of our British society for thousands of years.

We don’t talk about death very often and to our children even less. Sometimes when a pet or a relative has died an open window is provided for us adults to share about death with our children.  The little boy in America who actually witnessed a taste of heaven (see the internet for this link about the book and imminent film that is being made on this) and others who have had ‘death’ experiences shows the reality of what is to come.

I’m looking forward to the time that I can be with Jesus as I know he has promised his home to be my destiny. May each of us including our children gain a glimpse of what is to come so that the fear of death goes and the hope of what is to come envelops us in these turbulent times. Let’s look out for others, too, who may be gripped by fear in these days and take their hand and take them with us on the journey of life with Jesus Christ at the helm.

 

 

Resting

I’m not so good at this but have asked the Lord to teach me. He wants us in balance and we’re of no use to him if we are burnt out.

The Bible clearly teaches us that we are to cease our own works and do his.  Then we can enter into his rest (see Hebrews 4) and then be led by him to do what he wants.  As we learn to abide (I love that word) our energies and strength can come from God and our lives can make a far greater impact than if we tried to do things ourselves. By including him in everything we do (even finding keys that happened to us this morning!) He gets the credit for our lives and what happens in them.

I’m convinced that God wants us to enjoy life and we can do that as we learn to get the right amount of rest. Then we can laugh, have fun and be released from the intensity of pushing ourselves further than God intends for us.  Striving and stress are not part of his way for us as then we have that tendency of trying to do things in our own strength which is futile.

Psalm 37 (my favourite Psalm) speaks about resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for him. I so easily go ahead of him or lag so far behind that it takes a lot to catch up! As we delight in him, he does give us the desires of our heart that only he knows about.

Our children need the right amount of rest.  As they are still growing and developing, their sleep actually moulds how tall they will be – we actually grow when we sleep as children. How amazing is our God to allow for that growth. What our children experience affects them as they grow up e.g. being subject to too many of the sun’s rays without adequate protection can produce skin cancer in later life.  Not honouring the Lord as children will sometimes produce cynics or rebels or even worse.

God rested on the seventh day after the six days of creation. What a wonderful pattern for us to follow.  Teaching children this basic rest principal of resting from what has been done in the week will set them up for a balanced adulthood. ‘God’s world’ (Book 1 of ‘The Creation Series’) touches on this.

Be blessed by resting in him, the great God of the universe. He’s paved the way for us to rest in that he took all the blame for our sins and died a terrible death. Because of this, we  gain the benefits of a life hidden in him so that we can rest and be ready for his perfect plans and will to enfold in us.

Brokenness

God is the master potter.  We are the clay.  Sometimes we are broken inside but this can be mended as our lives can be remade by the master. When we realise our helplessness, then God can step in and do what no other can do.  He can release his comfort, support, help, care and compassion as he reforms us.  Then we can experience what true love is.

Most of us experience some tragedy or difficulty or habit that we cannot get over by ourselves.  If we can but humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6) and let him take the helm in our helplessness and weakness then God can step in, in a huge way.

I remember a time in my life when I had a list of things I couldn’t cope with and I also recall that as I was perusing these, God, for the first time, spoke to me in my heart and said ‘I will heal you of every single one of them’.  Then, that sounded impossible but, as the years have progressed, I am able to look back and have realised that God has kept his word and I am free of these things that were hindering my life.

There are still other challenges to face as God hasn’t finished with me or any of us yet but somehow the amazing things that God has already done for me form a springboard of more great things to come as God keeps his hand on my life, leads me through what sometimes feels like treacle and brings me through the problems. I can be an overcomer as God intends us to be.

Youngsters need to know that God is practical and can solve and resolve issues in their own lives.  I can remember friends who lived in a flat with their children telling me how one day one of their boys asked in prayer for a garden which then seemed impossible. Sometime later (and it wasn’t too long for the child to remember what he prayed) the family moved into a house that had a garden.  That child will never forget what God did for him.

As we consider God’s creation and the enormity of what he did in providing this beautiful planet for us humans to live in (not too far from the sun or we would have been frozen and not too near or we would have been burnt up) we can communicate with our children that with God no difficulty is too small or too big for him to handle.

Even when children experience brokenness in their family, God can heal and restore and lift their heads up again. There is hope even for the Oscars in this world who hurt and regret and virtually collapse – God can rebuild and forgiveness can flow so that even memories can be removed that seemed so awful. How we need to teach our children and one another about the enormity of what Jesus did at Calvary that opened the floodgates of God’s mercy and grace to all of us from the youngest to the oldest that has given each of us a future and a hope.

Panic!

Is this human trait prevalent to us all or is it just experienced by the likes of  the ‘Dad’s Army’ characters? I’m more prone to this and have to guard myself from spilling out and making others panic, too!

However, God, as always, has made provision for this emotion in that his word, the Bible, clearly says that we are to ‘cast all our cares on him because he cares for us’ (1 Peter 5:7).  I have advocated that our individual worries and fears and anxieties can be thrown to the Lord as they loom up within us.  Even by acknowledging a problem is halfway to solving it. I have found that by writing it down and then screwing the paper up and throwing it into the air is a very helpful way to cast ones cares on God.

The Creation Series of Diamond Books provides a spiritual anchor for our children’s lives as these books are based on God’s word.  His power at making things out of nothing can excite children and give them faith to believe that their Maker is bigger than they are.  Then, even at their early ages, they  can learn to depend on God and have confidence in him so that he becomes one they can trust.

We can’t talk enough about the great God who made everything.  God’s people, centuries ago, were told to talk diligently to their children regularly when they got up, when they sat down in their house, when they walked about and in the evening before bed (see Deuteronomy 6:7 in the Bible) so that they wouldn’t forget His presence and interest in their lives and could feel that they could converse with him as a friend.

May we learn to let God deal with our panic times so that our children can see how we trust God even in the face of many challenges and difficulties.  God will give us each his perfect peace as our minds are stayed on him. Let’s focus on Him who is solid and at hand for every problem.

Drenching!

Rain can give us this but the Spirit of God can give us living water that comes from God’s heart.  Trust that even though it has been the wettest February on record (I think I heard) if we had received the equivalent from the Holy Spirit I guess this would have been so much better for us and for others.

Met a Christian recently who just oozes the Lord and it was a privilege to pray with her.  I also gained a greater hunger for more of God’s Spirit as it is only in him that we can live the Christian life at all.  We so easily do things in our own strength only to find that what we do is ineffective.

More time with God means more of him and less of me and hopefully a greater blessing on everyone I meet as well as Father God being glorified. John the Baptist said that he wanted to decrease so that God could increase – oh for the reality of that for every day.

Am being blessed with Mrs. Charles Cowman’s “Streams in the Desert” (Volume 2). Although an old book, there are so many treasures within it that speak of hardship and difficulty and challenges.  However, these produce life changing patterns if we yield to his way rather than struggle against the flow of abiding in God to get through the circumstances rather than trying to avoid them. The drenching can begin here.

Let’s allow God to have his way so that we can be drenched by God’s Spirit continually.  Jesus spoke of the Spirit’s life giving water which we can receive if we are thirsty. The woman at the well realised that this was true as she had tried life in her own way and had multiple relationships that did not satisfy her. Then when she met Jesus and he opened her eyes to see that all her needs could be met by this life giving water, she just couldn’t stop speaking about him.

Let’s keep focused and talk with our children at every opportunity about the reality of God and his life changing Spirit through knowing Jesus Christ.  They will become so changed as they get anchored into God’s word that their excitement at being a Christian will develop and be contagious.

‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books shows what happened when God spoke and the Spirit of God breathed life into our world in all its different forms. Thank God that when Jesus Christ later came to our world and then left it again he left us his Spirit so that his work could be completed. Now, every tribe and tongue and nation can be aware of the power of God as they see God’s creation and all the children, too, can realise what life is about – to enjoy God forever, flowing in his drenching Spirit.