The Autumn Statement

We can each trust God for all our needs that come from the past, the now or into the future.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  That’s all we need to know. He doesn’t lie and is utterly faithful.  What he says, he will do.

It is so reassuring that politicians are not in control but Almighty God is sitting on the throne and is able to help each of us individually.  It amazes me the uniqueness of us all and even the uniqueness of each day and hour as God is immensely imaginative and creative to bring about what he wants.

If we, as a nation (all the individuals making up this) turned to God wholeheartedly, we would see a huge difference in our country.  Greed and abuse would have to be obliterated, the laws of the land would need to conform to what the Bible says and there would be peace in every street and no dread of burglars or murderers. Children would again feel safe to play in the streets and at the park and there would be no loneliness as each would be caring for his/her neighbour carefully. We wouldn’t need to use the NHS much as God would wonderfully have the freedom to heal us.  Our change of heart and attitudes would cause many of our diseases to disappear as forgiveness would be freely taking place especially in families and reconciliations would be the norm.

Of course, we can expect this sort of lifestyle consistently after Jesus has come again (yes he’s planning on returning) when He will be the King in reality for all to see.

Until then, let’s remind our children about Jesus’ coming again not just reminisce about how he came the first time.  We can give hope to our children that Jesus Christ has all of history wrapped up and that the wonder of Christmas is just a taste of far more to come and we can remind ourselves, too.

If you’re stuck as to what to give your children/ grandchildren this Christmas, treat them to ‘The Creation Series’ which can enlarge a child’s capacity to realise who God is and what he has already done – all beautifully illustrated in 8 books inside a box, ideal for a gift.

Stumbling

Have you ever stumbled in the dark? It’s quite scary and gets us out of balance and we perceive strange things sometimes yet when, as Christians, we stumble it can be quite different.

God is the master picker up of us. It’s not a problem that we stumble and fall (literally or more usually in our behaviour) it’s how long we stay there that matters.  In the Bible, in the book of Micah, it says (in chapter 7 and verse 8) “Enemy, [and we have one opposing us at all times – my comment] don’t laugh at me. I have fallen, but I will get up again.  I sit in the shadow of trouble now, but the Lord will be a light for me.” (New Century version)

There is always hope for us Christians because God is on our side and will help us whenever we call to him.  He can enable us overcome impossible odds as He specialises in miracles. That’s why, in my opinion, it is not on the cards to even consider euthanasia as an option.  Even if in the midst of our trial/trials we feel low it doesn’t mean that we won’t feel differently another day and our circumstances can change to help with this.  If a person is suffering and does not know the tenderness and help of the Lord Jesus Christ, then knowing Him will be a huge asset and will give us all that we need to carry on in this life.

Living here on earth is just a rehearsal for the real life that is awaiting us when we physically die. As we learn to overcome here and deal with the challenges with His strength and enabling, then God builds character in us and this is far more valuable than riches or even health. Let’s not give up here when we have all the resources available to live a godly life here unless Jesus Christ is a liar and I don’t see this as being a part of His character at all.

So, when we stumble, we can learn to be kind to ourselves, dust ourselves down, forgive others and ourselves (and that’s hardest) if that is necessary and get up again.

Our children need to know that stumbling is not necessarily a sin.  It depends what caused the stumbling. Children need to know that God loves them so much even when they get it wrong or slip for no fault of their own.  In the physical realm, a child can gain a lot of comfort from the adults around them who can sympathise and try to make a child feel better if they are upset. Similarly in the behaviour realm, others can be around us to help us to get up again and move forward.

May our children keep being reminded of the great God who made all of creation and yet loves each one of them and each of us adults with a love that is beyond description – it is so deep and high and all embracing.

Exhausted

This was me yesterday! Had a whole day of rest and then wondered how to avoid this again.  I’ve been going at quite a pace as we probably all do at different times.  How I need the balance of recreation and fun and time off work to recuperate – but how?

I often take a day out to listen to what God has to say to me.  I had actually planned it for yesterday only having to cancel it. Our balance hinges on what God has to say about our lives.

He stipulates that we humans need one day off in seven and if we don’t heed this (and God isn’t a kill joy) then we suffer.  We’re to love others as we love ourselves but how often do we truly love ourselves by perhaps saying ‘no’ to a need or request or choosing to go for a walk and see the sunset.

To instil quiet and stopping times in our schedules is essential for mental health too. Also, physical exercise that gets our brains refreshed too.

Drinking loads of water in a day keeps our brains active so why don’t we drink more? It’s so easy to pick up a coke or even a fruit juice but no liquid is better for the body than water and filtered at that.

Sometimes when life becomes overwhelming we need to take stock and work out what is really necessary. I hope to do this next week and am trusting that there will be enough space to do this in.

One essential that I need to make a habit of doing is learning to wait on and for the Lord. There are several promises in Scripture regarding this, the most well-known being in Isaiah 40:28-30 (New International Bible) “…The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. he will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope (other versions say wait) in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”

How our children need to be relieved of stress that we can so easily pass onto them. They, like we, need to learn to walk and not run so much through life. Laughter helps and the more we can do this the better we all are as a families.

Let’s let God lead us more carefully as we give him room. He is not a taskmaster over us but sometimes we treat him and ourselves as if he is. Let’s embrace his love and attention and give him all that we have and then he gives us all his power, love, grace and strength to lead the lives he wants of us – free of worry, anxiety, fear and even deadlines that we put on ourselves.

Sit back and enjoy ‘The Creation Series’. Just trying to find the snails in one of the books or daisies in another will make your heart sing as you share the joy of God’s creation and stop the inward looking!

Yearning

I don’t use the word ‘yearning’ much but when I do, it always creates in me a desire to reach for something. I yearn for God and his purposes on the earth as they are in heaven. I yearn for every man, woman and child to know the wonderful God in Jesus that I have been so privileged to know for a huge chunk of my life.

I am eternally grateful to a family friend who invited me to an Inter Varsity Youth Camp in Dolgellau back in 1966 where I realised that God was real.  I had always had a healthy fear of God in my life and attended church occasionally and even taught in a Sunday School at one of them.  However, God was so distant.

I read a Gideon Bible (that I think was given to me at school) quite regularly, following the daily readings in it but God was not in my life as I know him to be now. I suppose, I yearned for God then but didn’t realise it.

It has been said that we each have a God shaped hole within us that can only be filled with God. Man tries to fill this hole with anything he can think of so that the hole doesn’t pain him – sport, a relationship, hobbies, being busy, helping(even sacrificing time and effort perhaps in charitable work) – but the fact is that this hole cannot be filled with anything or anyone other than God himself.  We were made to know God and enjoy him forever so somehow we can so easily fall short of our destiny.

My yearning for God continues.  I want more of him in knowing him intimately and being available for him. I want to be full of his Holy Spirit at all times so that when Jesus returns I am a wise servant rather than foolish so that I’m ready for him.

How our children need to know that their lives are destined for great things in knowing God and making him known to others. Just living a godly life (that only God in us can bring about) can speak to others and one life at a time can be changed so that the world becomes a better place.

‘Diamond Books’ exist to bless children and to let them know how much they are loved and valued. As they learn to read, they are able to access God’s word that is so life transforming.  That’s why these books are based on the Bible so that they don’t miss out.

May we each yearn for God like we’ve never done before so that we can learn to wait and listen to him (which I find hard – but it is so necessary) and find our place on the planet, loving and giving, serving and blessing every individual we come across.

Variety

Variety can be a spice of life! It can be even better than a rest. However, sometimes we can be busy doing this and that and forget to care and love and be sensitive to others. I know I do.

God knows all about variety as he made this world in a fantastic way and with the power of his words. There is nothing to compare with his creative powers. Who among us can make a fly let alone a huge elephant or dinosaur – and not just one of each kind but several and sometimes hundreds of varieties.

I marvel at the complexity and extravagance of God’s creation – there is no ending to it.  Even all the TV programmes or films can’t capture the beauty and diversity that there is amongst God’s creation. To think that our Creator became a man and can have access to us still if we want him in our lives.

Children need to know that there is a God who made all the nature that they see around them, regardless of what politicians might recommend is taught in schools. All aspects of creation are so spectacular e.g. the sky that is painted differently every day; the trees that sway and are perfectly symmetrical as they grow; the small creatures on the seabed that hardly anyone notices; the worms that busy themselves and mix up our earth so well; and of course the highest creation of people – all unique and wonderfully and marvellously made.

Take time to marvel at God’s world and stand in awe with a child to see the grandeur of what God has made.  Perhaps ‘The Creation Series’ can act as a springboard to seeing some of the things that a child wouldn’t ordinarily see on a day-to-day basis. It could also act to stimulate a child to explore God’s world more.  Happy looking!

Creation is Staggering!

Whether it’s the brilliance of a sunset or the antics of tiny ants, God’s creation is staggering. The sheer volume of the beauty, variety, shapes and sizes of it all shows the sheer extravagance of the Creator who amazingly links himself personally with us.  The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image – how amazing is that!

Children often are in awe of what they find around them in creation and we, as adults, can encourage them to discover the intricate details of even a simple leaf let alone the transformations experienced by a butterfly egg and its subsequent developments.  Who would have thought that a wriggly caterpillar could change into an ugly chrysalis and then become a splendid butterfly.  Only God could have thought of making that!

Even in dryer countries where the luscious grass seems rare, the little creatures that burrow even amongst the sand are so resourceful.  Even cacti and trees in these regions somehow have a means of getting water. The big tap roots of some plants can access what they need.

God wants children to know his greatness and majesty just by seeing the creation he has made around them. Sometimes, we, as adults, can complicate their thinking and muddle their simple faith of God making everything. ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books seeks to present creation just as it is and acknowledges who made it. Let’s keep feeding our children with the living bread of God’s word that says that God spoke and he made light, and then  the sky, land and sea, then the plants and lights in the heavens and the sea creatures, the birds and animals and finally his highest creation, mankind (Genesis 1-2). Let’s marvel in awe at what God has done but more importantly at who he is!

Promptings

The Holy Spirit is a prompter.  He nudges, advises, teaches and guides us into the action that God wants. I’ve had experiences recently of God doing this to me.  When I’ve forgotten something, he suddenly reminds me about it.  When I’ve overlooked a matter, he whispers to me that I need to do this or that.  He is amazing!

When we become Christians we have the mind of Christ and so our thought life becomes the battle field of what we do and don’t do, what we say or don’t say.  Our thoughts are very powerful and we need to momentarily submit ourselves to our Maker so that he has greater access to us and can guide us in his ways through the thoughts he gives us. Not every thought comes from God, of course, which is why God put us in families (the church or natural family) to provide the balance.

We now have an enemy (satan or devil) who wants to influence us in our minds.  How we need to put on the whole armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6 (of the Bible) so that we can be alert to all his schemes.  He is a liar and a thief but he’s no match for or winner or conqueror  over Jesus Christ.

Our children need to be guarded but they also need to learn the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  Their spirits are often more purer than our adult minds and so can be more sensitive to him.  As they look at the beautiful things of God’s creation and simply are awed by the detail of them, God can speak to them in their wonderings and give them nuggets from heaven in their thinking. As they question various aspects of creation, God can teach them of his ways.  The butterfly comes to mind – a creepy crawly caterpillar one minute, then an ugly chrysalis hanging down and looking dead the next and then the terrific, exquisite, extravagant beauty next (perfectly uniform and symmetrical) and amazing to see! Let alone the wondrous dragonfly! The analogy, of course, can be made of us developing as Christians and becoming the beauty God intends us to be, becoming like our Maker.

So let’s study creation in ‘The Creation Series’ with our children and teach them to hear God’s whispers and even notice his power in the very things God has created – the might of the lion, the eagle, the whale, the sheer enormity of the universe – the number of stars alone and far more besides.

We can listen to our children and see how they comment about what God has made and appreciate the wonders around us. Then, as we are thankful, God can prompt us to act and do his bidding.

Engagement

Are you married? Are you hoping to get married? Are you engaged? All are life changing questions.

Can children experience engagement in a different way? Can they engage with God? I believe so and more importantly God has made provision for them to be able to grasp the simple truths of the Bible.  In fact, Jesus Christ mentioned that we, as adults, are to be like children in their simplicity and unclutteredness. At our home group last night we read some amazing words, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2 – NKJV).  God actually counts what young ones say as strength over the enemies that are around them (all influenced by satan). As children are trained in what and how they say things then their mouths can act as buffers against what could harm them. I think we underestimate what children can do in this way.

To be able to engage with children about the God who loves them and has a perfect plan for their lives is such a privilege as parents, teachers and friends. What they ‘pick up’ in these early years is of vital importance to the whole of their lives. Hence our desire as writers of Diamond Books to bring to children the simple truths of God that create a platform and foundation and launching pad for them to become anchored in the love and ways of God.

Because the books are so visual in content, the Bible can come alive especially in ‘The Creation Series’ where the animals, plants, fish and people and various aspects of our world are shown along with the engaging text.  The fun element of finding frogs and daisies etc in the 8 books makes the boxed set an essential for every 3-4 year old’s bookshelf or even for their bedside table or the special place where they keep their very best toys.

We can be engaged to be married or engage with our life partner when we’re married but best of all is to learn to engage with God and to let our youngsters know how to do this as well.

My Secret

“Do you have a secret? Do you promise not to tell?” goes the old Searchers song.  I have a secret that I want everyone to know – Jesus Christ is really alive and can change the heart of every person on this planet.  Somehow, it doesn’t make the world news, yet knowing him is the secret to success, health, joy, contentment, the future and more besides.

It is only by revelation that we get to understand what the Bible is all about.  This book is inspired from beginning to end and although it is old and long and historical, its pages can develop and help us human beings like no other book can.  The Holy Spirit is the interpreter of it. We only have to ask him to show us what it means as we read and the way will unfold for us to live life to the full, free of guilt and shame and free from anxieties as we trust our maker and redeemer.

I am thrilled to be able to supply 3-4 year olds in particular with the story of the early beginnings of creation and the wonder of  the magnificent flowers and birds and animals and people God has created. Sharon Rentta our artist for these books has captured the heart of God in the work she has done.  Take a look and have a read and bless the children around you.  They will never forget what they see and the words and illustrations could make a big impact upon their little lives.

We can encourage children to have secrets about the things they find out about creation e.g. a pair of swans stay together for their lifetime; or a mummy penguin usually lays a huge egg; or the beautiful coral reef off Australia is so big that it can be seen from the moon! Information that can seem secretive can be found out by children in the adventure of life that they are on.  What child is not fascinated by the ants they see and yet the secret about them is that they are such busy creatures and can teach us humans how to redeem our time and prepare ahead!

So with us adults – let’s not keep the ‘secret’ of Christ to ourselves but flood the world with the truth of the good news that says that all can have a place in heaven, all are loved and can be forgiven if only they ask their maker to do so. No-one is barred – now that is the best kept secret of all!

Good Friday

When I was a teenager, I wondered why ‘Good’ Friday was good when a 33 year old in the prime of his life was crucified outside Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. Then, when I was 17 years old, I discovered why.

The ugliness of human sin had to be dealt with. My sin needed to be erased. The only way that God could do this for mankind was to send his only son, Jesus Christ, to die instead of us (including me). The Bible clearly states that the penalty of sin is death, physical as well as emotional and spiritual death and there is no way we could get out of this penalty that was placed upon us when our first forefather, Adam, sinned. However, God has plans far superior than ours and God found the only way to save mankind quite literally.

We can’t work hard to erase our sin; we can’t even do our best; we can’t do enough penance to earn the title of ‘perfect’ that God wants of us. The only way we as humans can be ‘perfect’ and right with God is for God to forgive us and erase our sin completely.  Then he sees us as righteous and acceptable to him. It is a wonder indeed and makes ‘Good’ Friday meaningful and true. Jesus’ blood covers our sin.

It was a gory day that first ‘Good’ Friday but Jesus Christ didn’t flinch from the mission his Father had called him to do. Our children need to know this, too, which is why we have mentioned the answer to human sin in ‘The Creation Series’ to provide a bedrock of truth that children will never forget.

Let’s bow down this Friday and worship the God who cared so much for us to even die for us. Yet, he’s not still in the grave as we have the miracle of Easter Day that brings hope to every individual on the planet. As our children may be involved in Easter egg hunts, let’s remind them of the ‘egg shaped’ huge stone that was laid across Jesus’ tomb that got moved by the power of God. The miracle of Easter is just around the corner and it can be grasped by all who recognise and are humble enough to realise their need of a saviour.