Being Busy

I think that this is what most of the human race is good at and we women even more so. I find myself multi-tasking sometimes up to 10 jobs at a time which can make one gain a headache! However, it is my opinion that being busy can cover up all sorts of things like insecurity, wanting to please people and feeling needed to mention a few.

Once, we get hold of Jesus’ recommendation to abide in Him (see John 15) – to dwell in Him and rest in Him then, he can do His work in us. We can learn to cease from our own works and learn to do his will which doesn’t have to be that frantic or rushed. One doesn’t see Jesus racing around even though His mission was to save the world! Sometimes, Jesus even delayed helping and even when there were crises at hand. When Lazarus died and his two sister petitioned Jesus to come to them, he purposely delayed coming to them as He was so intimately connected with His Father God that He knew He had to wait for a greater happening to occur and glory going to God as Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Again, I mention my favourite Psalm 37 that speaks about resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for Him and then He will give the desires of our heart. Only God knows what’s deep within each of us, and yet if we remain connected closely to our Maker, then He can direct us if we are prepared to be still and listen. Of course, at times, we can still hear God’s voice even on the go but these impulsive thoughts can sometimes lead us to seeking God quietly for confirmation especially when we have big decisions we have to make.

Somehow, this generation of children seem to be more on the go mentally than the previous one, with all the technology around them filling their waking hours. I was hearing about a Mum who abstained from any social media and phone use at all with her young daughter for a day. They found that they could actually do lots more creative things both on their own and together. At first, it was a huge wrench, especially for the young girl but she came into balance. Moments of stillness and just stopping the usual routines can help us feel more alive and able to take life more steadily at a more even pace with time to spare to even talk to people. Our children need to learn this – which is one reason we have provided ‘The Creation Series‘ (Set A of Diamond Books) so that a young child can snuggle up close to an adult and read about God’s order in His world which includes resting for one day of the week. If God needed to rest and cease from busyness, so do we!

Fact or Fiction

Just recently, we had a family problem that nobody could understand. A wedding was called off, relatives had come from Australia and there was deadlock between some members of the family. While others of us looked on, it was easy to gossip about the whole situation and even surmise what we thought was going on. However, we, the ones observing things, had no idea about the true facts of the matter and as one member of the family stated ‘it is none of our business and we must not interfere’. Our job was to pray and let God bring reconciliation and release the facts. In the meantime, we needed to keep our prone-to-tattling tongues still and wait for all to be revealed!

Jesus said “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (see John 8). The truth of a matter reveals the facts so that everyone can ‘sing off the same hymn sheet’ and misunderstandings can be avoided. Facts can’t be disputed but sometimes it is difficult to discern what is fact and what is fiction.

Luke, a doctor, wrote the gospel book of Luke and the book of Acts. He was a very detailed and intelligent character who didn’t actually meet Jesus but interviewed those who knew him to gain eye witness accounts of what did happen. Luke carefully explained that his aim was to write an orderly account of the facts about Jesus from the time of his birth until he was taken into Heaven so that the reader would know the certainty of the things that had already been instructed to them (Luke 1:1-4). The book of Acts was a continuation of his gospel that showed the facts from the time when Jesus was taken up into heaven right through to the formation of the early church with its commitment to spread the good news about Jesus everywhere!

It’s easy for children to be swayed by ideas and feelings without looking at the facts of a situation or even to ascertain what is fact or fiction in what they read. Because the Bible is authentic and is known to be true, they can trust the words that are in it. That is why every Diamond Book is like a diamond coming out of Heaven with nuggets of truth inside and many facets on the outside, showing children the facts about what God is like and how he loves everyone and has a plan for each person. Let’s not deny children the ‘facts of life’ that provide for them the journey of life that is full of peace, joy, contentment and purpose with security as found in the Bible itself.

Mental health for children – 7 suggestions

There is a lot of talk here in the UK about children being out of balance and suffering from mental health problems.  I have a theory that children aren’t getting connected in a right way. What do I mean? Let me explain.

In today’s world getting connected using emails, tablets, iphones, mobiles etc is the norm for our young generation. Actually communicating verbally with people or even writing a letter to someone seems alien. Play has been pushed to the back of these young lives so that gadgets are their play experiences.

In my opinion, in order to be mentally healthy our children need to be able:

1          to talk and express their feelings and ideas with adults and children who are not too busy to listen.

2        play in creative ways and have the freedom to run around in the world God has provided for them

3       to have gadget free days as often as can be organised into family life. Start with a gadget free Sunday and develop other days from this e.g having gadget free weekends/workdays and/or holiday times. See your children thrive with the freedom they can have to be children and explore and have adventures.

4     to connect with their Maker who made all that they see around them in creation. Take a walk regularly with children and let them feel the wind and sunshine and appreciate all the details of the creation they can see, e.g a tiny flower; a bud on a tree; little footprints of an animal.

5     get to know their Maker by reading his written word, the Bible or books that show off the Bible truths, eg ‘The Creation Series‘ of Diamond Books.

6     memorise key Scripture verses so that at a young age children can renew their minds as to what is true, right, noble, lovely, pure and honourable. As they focus on the good things in life, then their minds will be healthy and positive too.

7     to be nurtured by caring adults who will input and impact their lives with love and care. I don’t think we were made to live alone – hence God creating families. Some children can feel very alone and need that help and realisation that they need not feel alone as God, their Daddy, is with them always. A lot of children don’t know this – hence they can be out of balance mentally.

Paul, the apostle wrote to young Timothy (who was shy, retiring and timid) long ago.

God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). We do well to take note of this and allow our children the freedom to be who God intended them to be – healthy in every way!

Books about Jesus that Children can Read Themselves!

Have you ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if there were books about Jesus that young children could read themselves?”

Over the years one or two authors and publishers have filled this gap with the occasional book but next year something really exciting is happening! UK-based Diamond Books, pioneered by teacher, Carole Leah, is launching a whole series of books about Jesus that can be read by young children themselves. The books are being published by Westbow Press and should be available Easter 2017.

‘The Jesus Series’ consists of 16 books I am The Lightv2for 4-5 year olds to read themselves.
Books 1-8 focus on what Jesus said about himself, shown in John’s gospel.
Books 8-16 tell what Jesus came to do, based on Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:16-21.

The titles of the 16 books in the Jesus Series are:

  • The Light
  • The Door
  • The Shepherd
  • The Way
  • The Truth
  • The Life
  • The Vine
  • The Bread
  • God Sent Jesus
  • A Blind Man
  • A Deaf Man
  • A Sad Woman
  • A Sick Woman
  • A Lonely Man
  • Two Women
  • Dead and Alive

The vocabulary of the Jesus series books has been carefully chosen for early readers Todd has a lightand all 16 books are beautifully illustrated by talented Philippino illustrator Floyd Yamyamin. The books include realistic illustrations based on the Biblical accounts and there are also several modern-day characters appearing in all the books with whom the readers can relate.

To keep up with all the latest developments, visit the Diamond Books Website: www.diamondbooks.org.uk

Grace

Just a name?  What’s in a name? This, in my opinion is a beautiful name often given to girls! I know several ladies now that have the name ‘Grace’ including a treasured Auntie and they all seem to exude its meaning which is even more beautiful to contemplate. There are however some men that have been called Grace (although I don’t know of any personally). A famous English cricketer was called Grace (William Gilbert) who is 1876 scored the first triple century..

Webster’s dictionary has a lot to say about this word ‘grace’:1 an attractiveness especially in design, manner or movement; 2 becoming courtesy; 3 manner, bearing; an attractive feature, an accomplishment; goodwill, favour; a delay granted as a favour; and a prayer of thanksgiving before or after a meal . However, it is in Christian theology in particular that this word has an amazing depth of meaning that soothes the human spirit. Webster says it is “the supernatural assistance of God bestowed upon a rational being with a view to his salvation.”  That says to me that God is interested in us humans and wants to assist us, his ultimate aim being to save us (from sin and its consequences). Grace, in fact, is the word used in the Bible to say that because of what Jesus did by dying in our place, we are let off our sin as if we had never done it. To be called ‘Grace’ and to have this meaning to one’s name must be a privilege indeed.

I have always considered grace to be something that is given me that I don’t deserve, God’s undeserved favour, which fits in exactly with the theological meaning of grace. I was born a sinner and unless someone reaches into my inner being I will always be a sinner. God has done this reaching into my spirit, heart and soul when I was 17 years old and even though I, as a human being, will always be tainted by sin while here on planet Earth, one day God will take me to be with Himself and with Him I will be free of sin. What supernatural assistance is this!

The apostle, Paul said in 2 Corinthians that God’s grace is sufficient for us humans. So when things get on top of us or we feel condemned about something the grace – the undeserved favour of God – is that which sustains us and keeps us balanced and in tune with God’s overall strategy in a given situation.

That’s why I write Diamond Books so that children can appreciate what the grace of God really is. He doesn’t condemn or put down or write off anyone and children need to know how valuable and precious and favoured they are by God. Adults sometimes miss out on these truths but children are open and are often so aware of God when we grown ups have so often stifled our link with God.

Let’s not put any obstacle in the way of children knowing about the grace of God. When they and we stumble God’s hand is reaching out to us; when the way of life seems too hard, God provides a way forward; and when we feel wrecked by the storms and events in our lives that we weren’t expecting Big Daddy God is there to comfort us. “Let the little children come to me,” said Jesus. In the Message Bible it reads “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” (Matthew 19:14-15). Perhaps our politicians could get a bite of this as they consider the rules and regulations they put before children that actually hinder  them seeing the truths clearly stated in the Bible.

 

Faith

This is a biggy! The very centre stone of the foundation picture that I received when embarking on this Diamond Books venture was ‘faith’. I felt the Lord saying to me that from now on (then and onwards) ‘faith’ was to be central to my life. Jesus says clearly that “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6) “for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.” So, there are many benefits.

Through learning about faith and experiencing so much of God’s provision for myself as well as this project, I have come to understand that one never outgrows learning about faith. We use faith everyday in the natural, e.g. sitting on a chair – I believe it will hold me so I sit on it!  As I am learning to take God’s word as it stands knowing that the Author of these words doesn’t lie or deceive, then my simple faith in God can grow and develop.

It’s when we look at the waves and winds of the challenges of life that we can easily falter and start using our own ideas rather than leaning on Him. That is why, I believe, God puts us in teams. The Scriptures clearly tell us that “two are better than one” in Ecclesiastes 4 as when one falls, the other can pick them up and vice versa. In a marriage, this can work well but even in work situations, the same principle applies.

I’m one for soldiering on often to the detriment of relationships in our team. How we need each other as we each point the other upwards to the God who can make all things possible and can work out his purposes despite our weak frames.

Children easily have faith. They trust when we as adults would ask questions. We are encouraged to be like children in this way for then we can simply relate to our Heavenly Father as a child does his/her daddy. ‘Abba’ is used in Romans 8:15 as a word we can use for God and it means ‘daddy’. How wonderful for each of us to have a close daddy!

In Book 1 of ‘God’s World’ of The Creation Series there is a picture of a dad with children on his lap. That’s how God wants us to be with Him – close and snug and safe which we can be when we have a real relationship with Him. How our children need to know this as we encourage them to take those steps of faith that connect them to Jesus, the giver of life abundant in all its wholeness and fullness.

 

Meekness

This is not a word we use much in every day life but Jesus Christ was known to be meek. I thought it meant humble but it turns out that it means being brought into submission like a wild horse being trained – out of control at first but harnessed and brought into self control.

When I first met my husband and then when he proposed, I actually asked him whether he was prepared to have someone in his life who was impatient and lacked self control. Needless to say, he took me on as I was and through our relationship, God has begun to develop these characteristics in me – amazing isn’t it? I don’t pretend to be there yet but am on the way to learning not to be impulsive and holding back rather than diving into a situation. Needless to say, my speech hasn’t always been that controlled either. The Bible clearly states in the book of James that no-one can control the tongue which also needs to be bridled. How we need the Holy Spirit to develop these fruits of love in us (see Galatians 5).

Meekness is one of the foundation stones I believe God gave me when first I ventured on doing this project of ‘Diamond Books’. Letting God control my impulsiveness and eagerness to move forward (sometimes with little thought or prayer) has been something that has been a challenge. However, God never calls us without providing the way forward and so in this I am open to be led in a more controlled way as God works in me.

None of us can produce graces of any kind in our lives. Only Jesus Christ and the work of His Spirit that he has given to indwell us as Christians can develop such qualities as meekness in us. I always laugh when that song from the 60’s “Wild Thing” is played as it reminds me of what I have been and how God is beginning to develop a more less wild person of me!

Children need to know that God is well able to develop their character and that even seemingly bad experiences or happenings in their lives can produce good things eventually.

God’s love for each child is so wonderful. I can’t recommend ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books enough not because God enabled me to write the 8 books but because the series builds a platform about God’s perfect and many sided character – hence the diamond!

Truth

Wars have been fought and won or lost over what people believe to be true. Truth is something that is very important especially in daily living as individuals and in families and groups as well. When you know that someone is going to tell the truth, you can trust that person more than someone who has lied to you in the past.

Jesus said that we would know the truth and that this truth would set us free (see John 8:32). What is this truth? I believe that the truth that Jesus is referring to is to Himself as when we get to know him, he reveals the truths from the Bible to us by His Spirit so that we can understand that he died for the sins of the whole world and that his blood actually removes and covers my sin so that in God’s sight we can be pure and right before him.

We are encouraged in the Bible to worship God in Spirit and in truth so that we can actually bless our Creator God. “God is Spirit and only by the power of his Spirit can people really worship him as he really is.” (John 4:24 – Good News Bible) Jesus became a human being, full of grace and truth  (see John 1:14) so to know him is to know truth.

For me, God named another foundation stone that he showed me as I began to embark on doing this Diamond Books project and it was called ‘truth’. Through this project, we as a team have endeavoured to embellish this stone by speaking the truth to one another in love and seeking to be scrupulously honest in our financial dealings as well as with the way we treat one another. So,God knew that one of the platforms of Diamond Books was to be truth and he has been helping us to learn more about walking in truth practically ever since.

Children easily lie in their little ways and how important it is to curb these tendencies even in the little areas of their lives (and our lives, too). I remember taking our son up to the manager of a local shop so that he could apologise for stealing something from the shop and then lying to us about doing so. How we each need a Saviour to help us through the minefield of making decisions and right choices. Lies are the opposite of truth – let’s help our children to deal with this in their early experiences so that they can become the true adults in our society that can be depended upon not to be double minded or shady in their dealings.

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..