Media Muddles

It’s so easy to get in a muddle and we want to cry ‘Get me out of here’ when our circumstances become overwhelming.  However, there is a way through the mass of media communications that confront us each day.

We can so easily mishear something that somebody has said or misinterpret an email or letter or just plainly misunderstand in the midst of a phone call or text.  There is a way forward – sometimes it is only sleep that we require to be able to become more alert and sift out what is important from what is trivial but when things get out of hand and we are confronted with negative feedback that’s when the grace of God is needed so much.

Recently, I have been misunderstood but the wonderful thing is that God knows our motives and, even when they are not 100% pure, God knows our hearts and our longings to do what is right.

A comment can be so damning and yet not meant so.  For us sensitive ones it is harder to keep renewing one’s mind but therein lies the answer and victory. We can forgive someone at any time and then we are free to move on to keep communicating even though there is a likelihood of muddles.

To train our children to be articulate without being cocky is an art in itself and to forgive and let a matter go, too.  However, we can learn from God’s simple statements even when he made all that we see around us in the natural world. He said, for example in Genesis 1 ‘Let there be light’ and there it was immediately.  Less words can be more and being succinct is a great way to communicate and doesn’t wear out the hearers!

Let’s get our children to study the simple statements that God made in Genesis 1 and 2. Many of these are mentioned in ‘The Creation Series’ which is selling online at a special price including postage and packing costs. Three-four year olds will then always remember in their memory bank what God said even if they temporarily forget and older children can refresh on the truths found in God’s wonderful word.

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.

Victory

There’s a song that says, ‘Victory is on our lips and in our lives’ but does one follow the other?  What does victory look like today? We’re fortunate in the U.K. not to be at war within our country (although some in Scotland may war with words about leaving the U.K!)

Jesus Christ spelt out the greatest victory ever in the life he led and in the death he died but more amazingly in the life that came forth from the grave when he was resurrected from the dead.  Because he didn’t stay dead, he is able to defeat death for us and release us humans from  the sin and sicknesses that so easily beset us as well as deliver us from the enemy of our souls, the devil.

I’m convinced the more I get moving in the Christian life that what we say has a huge bearing on who we become.  Words are so powerful as God showed at creation – he spoke and what he said was created.  The Bible says that ‘what you say can mean life or death’ (Proverbs 18:21 – International Children’s Bible). So, how we need to be careful what we say!  We in fact will have to give an account (one day) of every word we’ve ever said – how incredibly awesome is this. Victory often comes by being silent it seems as Jesus Christ himself showed when being harassed and victimised.

Guarding our tongues and mouths, therefore, is vital and necessary for us to live overcoming lives.  It’s not the number of challenges we encounter so much as to how we deal with them.  Stress can cause all manner of behaviour and words can often slip out that one can regret. Guarding our sleep, also, is essential for our wellbeing especially when we are under pressure or have circumstances to face that are contrary to our usual round.  Adapting and being flexible can only come really when we are at peace with God, others and ourselves so that we can see victory in every situation we face.

I am so grateful to God that he only expects us to live one day at a time. I am learning to let God take the strain and look after the cares of the day especially before going to sleep. A good night’s sleep is a gift indeed and can refresh us so well that the difficulties of the day before can almost be erased as we start afresh with God on another adventurous day.

So, let’s get leaning on God and let him carry us and help us through life’s struggles.  This is the first day of the rest of our lives and God can make all the difference to it. Our children, too, need to know that God is for them not against them so that they can lean on him at school or at play, in the home and when they are outside. They have the advantage of developing early in their lives this habit of trusting God for everything they need (not necessarily want – although God bountifully answers their heart’s cry sometimes in ways they and the adults around them least expect).  God is a God of surprises and adventure and he wants our children to know this and respond to him.

Let ‘The Creation Series’ minister to your children.  The pictures alone glorify God and get the children wondering what this world is all about.  As they begin to grasp the enormity of their creator there is no stopping what they will believe him for, as their faith is purer than us adults and can achieve so much. Jesus said, “Let the  little children come to me. Don’t stop them. The kingdom of God belongs to people who are like these little children.” (International Children’s Bible)  How much we have to learn!

An Anchor

Every boat has an anchor but do our lives have this solid weight keeping us stable?  Sometimes a weight can be a hindrance but when it has a purpose then one can allow for it. God’s word, the Bible, provides solidness for our lives. If we ignore it, it is to our peril when times get tough. If we treasure it, then we can open it and use it for its intended purpose i.e. to create faith that can do anything.

‘The Creation Series’ is based on God’s word and follows the Genesis account of creation.  Little ones can have fun finding the ladybirds or the frogs or butterflies in various ones of this 8 book boxed set, primarily to read to 3–4 year olds. The wonders of creation never cease to amaze me.  How an intelligent mind can think that the world just came together (like bits of a watch all falling down to make a perfect working watch) without a creator, I find baffling.

Diamond Books exists to help children to have a simple understanding of what God has done so far and has seen fit to record for us to learn from. Men inspired by God wrote down various poems, historical accounts, wise words, songs and prophecy so that we could benefit from knowing the heart of God.  His pulse and heart beat are always towards his creation.  ‘People are on tiptoe to see the sons of God coming into their own’ it says in Romans 8.

Let’s not be a disappointment to God or our fellow man/woman.  The only way forward, it seems, is not only to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength but to also love our neighbour as we love ourselves. Love has to be our motivator or else what we do becomes a comparison with others or we want to be seen doing what we’re doing (subtly showing off) what God has given us to do. Getting the balance of love is a hard one – how much does one love oneself these days and how does this compare with the amount of love we give others?

God’s love is oozing in ‘The Creation Series’.  Young children don’t get hang ups about loving – they just do it as they see love modelled in us adults.  Let’s not put a stumbling block in the way of these youngsters so that love can prevail in the home, outside at play, in school and wherever they happen to go.

Let’s keep life simple enough so that we can respond to God and to others in the way of love continually and if we blow it, we can clamber onto Father God’s knee for forgiveness and his loving support and sustaining. Then we can start the way of loving again, leaning on God to enable us to love his way.

Being Quiet

Waiting, resting and quietly waiting for God may seem alien in our society but so necessary to be able to hear God and move with him. I have been challenged by Doctor Howard Morgan (from the States who is visiting the UK at present) to spend a day not saying anything.

I’ve decided to take up the challenge of having a partial day in silence with notebook and Bible to hand and see what transpires. Even though we have all our gadgets and media stuff, the still small voice of God needs to be heard if, as Christians, we are to be effective.

I’m aware that Moses spent a lot of time alone with God – two lots of 40 days at least.  He had no notebook or Bible and yet the presence of God must have been tangible and very fulfilling to him.  Jesus Christ, of course, spent 40 days in the wilderness before he set out on the ministry that his Father had called him to do. He was filled with the Spirit before going there and came out in the power of the Holy Spirit. This enabled him to do all the miracles and wonderful deeds that we know about from the 4 Gospels of the Bible. John says at the end of his gospel that these accounts were just a bit of what he did and all the books in the world couldn’t contain what Jesus did in entirety.

Amongst all the hustle and bustle of this world, let’s give God time to speak and communicate with us ordinary people who have an extraordinary God who was able to part seas, burn up a soaking wet altar, raise people from the dead, rescue a man from lions, protect some young men from fire, and cause a huge wide city wall to collapse just by his people obeying him by walking (silently) and then blowing trumpets and shouting.  It all sounds so foolish but then God takes the foolish things of this world and surprises the so called wise people with what God can do!

Let’s continue to honour God with our lives laid down so that whatever he wants to do with us we’ll say ‘yes’ and not argue or make excuses.  We only have one life to lead on this planet – let’s simply be available to the Highest!

Lordship

When life does not make sense, Jesus is Lord!  When everything seems to go wrong, Jesus is Lord! When our best plans go pear-shaped, Jesus is Lord! When my body hurts, Jesus is Lord! When I’m misunderstood, Jesus is Lord! When everything seems so right, Jesus is Lord!

I’m amazed at how personal God is.  He not only created the universe but he also sent Jesus in the form of a tiny embryo that grew into a foetus and was born a man.  His mission was to die for our world’s sin (and of course my sin). He also has such immense qualities at listening to his human creation now and answering simple prayers.

Diamond Books has been birthed in prayer which is why it is developing now.  It has taken a long, long time to get this far but then Abraham and Moses and Paul and all the Biblical characters had to wait a long time for their paths to unfold.  I am finding that God is not in a hurry. When Jesus walked this earth did he ever race to help his disciples or panic his way through difficulties?  He simply entrusted each day to his Father God and let the day happen.

I am convinced as I go on in the Christian life that busyness is the number one problem amongst God’s people certainly in the UK and perhaps elsewhere too.  If we can stop and begin to listen to him more then we will find our lives enriched, fruitful and certainly a blessing and help to many. Abiding, I think, is the key so that he does his work in us.  Our trying and striving does not produce the same thing!

Let’s let God have his way this Christmas season so that even if half the things we intended to do don’t get done, he can prove his Lordship in our lives. Then he can be glorified in us with no fuss or self aggrandisement while we quietly and simply trust like Mary did.

Holidays

Stopping! Relaxing! Chilling out! Listening to God! Being free to be! Enjoying the wonders of creation!  All phrases that could mean the same thing – but essentially needed in order for us humans to keep in balance.

How amazing that God created the world and then when he made humans he took a rest. He, being our Maker, knows we need that time out, away from the crowd, not in routine but taking in from Him.

We’ve just taken  a few days off and wondered into South Shropshire to a place called Stottesdon where we enjoyed loads of sunshine and the most idyllic bed and breakfast accommodation. The weather was glorious for November and we were able to take walks and look around the little country towns and villages.  We didn’t even see one large supermarket for the whole of the trip – that’s Britain at it’s best!

Would recommend the pattern of 6 weeks at work and taking one week off which is the routine I use while working on Diamond Books.  Also, the pattern of 6 days working and a day off works well, too – but then our Creator suggested it so it would work very well.  Whatever, he asks us to do always has a good outcome even if the process is sometimes difficult.

God is so interested in our growth and development more than we realise.  On holiday, I felt God impressing on me that I was in a millstone situation whereby God is grinding the self out of me so that I can learn to abide in Him more readily and say ‘no’ to self and selfishness.  Knowing what He is about makes it easier to swallow when the grinding wheel moves!

Let’s allow Him to mould us and guide us concerning our holiday times.  Even if we can’t get away we can put our feet up and read and just be.  I often do jigsaw puzzles with classical music in the background to relax at such times.  Making cards with pressed wild flowers in another pastime I love doing to relax although I haven’t done this for years!  Then there’s the knitting and watching a good film.  Whatever you do may His rest be yours as we seek to honour Him with our lives laid before Him.

Half-full?

Are you a half-full or half-empty person? Human beings seem to be in one of these camps.  We either see things positively or negatively. I hover between the two!

God has intended that we always see things from a half-full perspective.  He is always positive and gives us hope beyond our imagination and often our experience.

However our upbringing, our personality, our experiences in life can cause us to be the half-empty people who I readily identify with.  I catch myself saying something negative and need to resay it the way I want it to really be. How amazing that God knows all about our quandry and gives us Romans 12:2 to read and meditate on.

“Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.” (New Century Bible)

As we focus our minds on God and his character then we can become like him – always positive; giving compliments; listening to others; believing the best of others; and thinking well of ourselves (ensuring that what we think is what God has said about us).

As we know God’s love in our hearts we realise that he is enough to fill us up to the brim and overflowing with his Holy Spirit.  Then we can see each circumstance or situation or comment from at least a half-full angle. Then we can believe God to fill us up and over with his love and grace and kindness and care to be the people he always intended us to be so that instead of reacting to others, by God’s grace, we can respond with his love.

Have just been working on Set E, Book 4 of Diamond Books and I am reminded there how the 12 spies were sent into Canaan by Moses so that they could report back about the land. Two of the spies were very positive but the others were frightened and negative about the prospect of going to live there.  The consequences for those who were negative were dire and they missed out on God’s best for them.  Let’s be like the 2 (Joshua and Caleb) who believed that God could overcome every difficulty.  “Without faith no one can please  God” (Hebrews 11:6 – New Century Bible) so let’s be believing believers – half-full and rising to full capacity!

Celebrating the Best

There is so much to be thankful for. Our very lives are precious and those of our children incredibly valuable.  That is why what we feed children (physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, emotionally) is so important and strategic to what they will become.

Diamond Books is about the whole child experiencing as much of God’s beauty and security and love and care and character as possible in their young reading years. Then they can choose to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives and see how he makes a difference to everyday decisions, choices and their relationships with others. They can learn to be thankful for everything as all that we have has been given to us by God.

Just looking at creation is awesome in itself.  The detail, order, loveliness and colour points us to an amazing Creator who decided to make everything he created unique – even the grains of sand, the snowflakes and of course us human beings. I am always staggered that we ‘work’ as well as we do seeing as our bodies are so complex, our brains alone being far superior to any computer ever invented.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ seems such a small phrase to say to our Creator God and yet he loves our praises, thanks, adoration and worship.  When children grasp these habits their lives can take off in song or in poetry or even writing stories, as well as in all manner of creativity. Seeing as Jesus Christ is called the word of God (see John 1) it is not surprising that we can easily be like him. Our creativity is a gift from God who inspires his human creation to be just like him – a mirror of his wonderful person. Let’s model ‘thankfulness’ to our children so they can become more appreciative and not take for granted the many blessings we all receive daily.  (Am aware that our varying lives don’t always seem that blessed e.g. for our brothers and sisters in Syria at this time but even they can find something to be thankful for by God’s grace.)

The Essential Christian Bookshops

With all the hustle and bustle of modern day life we are becoming increasingly busy with very little time to think.  The Christian bookshops in our country (UK) provide a wonderful service.  They have to hand not only a huge variety of  books but also large choices of cards, toys, and gifts as well as hosts of musical genre for all ages and tastes, gender and race.  The bonus is that helpful staff are available to discuss and inform.

As we seem to be moving towards instant packages when we come to purchase a book or gift, the benefits of paying a visit to a Christian bookshop are immense.  One can handle the books one might buy; one can look at all the illustrations of a publication; one can order a book easily, this being especially handy if one doesn’t have a computer. One can talk things through with a member of staff and advice can be given.

Some Christian bookshops have cafes attached to them such as the example on this blog (see picture). This enables such a shop to become a hub of social activity where ideas are exchanged, relaxation is encouraged and business meetings can be arranged around lunch or a coffee or a snack.

If you are a Christian bookshop owner or work in one be encouraged – you are doing a priceless job.  You can be the means of many finding out that Jesus is alive. By serving the Christian community you are also able to enhance the whole area around you. You can be a link person to help someone find out something they need to know or supply a person’s expertise to a particular problem or want.

A listening ear is a good quality for any Christian bookshop worker and a willingness to be the servant of all even in the background, stock taking or doing menial tasks that no-one but the Lord sees.  The whole set-up can be a valuable training ground for youngsters, too, wanting to find their place in life and more importantly desiring to seek to do God’s plan for their lives.

In my opinion (and it is encouraged in the Bible) being filled with the Holy Spirit daily and knowing God’s love deep down is essential for every leader of any Christian bookshop so that love and warmth and friendliness become a mark of the shop.  An organisation always reflects its leader and as each one is faithful to receive from the Lord then they in turn can influence and encourage their staff. “He who is friendly gets friends (Proverbs 18:24) which is a brilliant proverb to reflect on as friendship in these days is so lacking and needs nurturing.  The Christian bookshops can take a lead in this.

May the Christian bookshops in our nation flourish in these austere times.  Joshua was able to hear God’s voice to know God’s plans to see Jericho flattened; David fought and won the mighty Goliath; the apostle Paul was able to overcome so many difficulties because they each trusted God who had called them to their specific tasks. “For there is nothing that God cannot do” Luke 1:38[GN] (as the angel said to Mary) and this is still true today.

So, lets’s frequent the Christian bookshops all over this country.  Let’s see how many we can visit before the end of the year and bring our encouragement to them and purchase from them whenever we can!