The Reason Children Sing

Children are often such spontaneous beings and we adults can learn a lot from them. Jesus actually said that we are all to become like little children in the simplicity and simple faith they easily exhibit. Jesus also said that if people didn’t praise Him then the stones would cry out – quite literally!

God has made us humans to worship him. He has created a God-shaped hole within each of us that only He can fill. Children can so easily fill this hole in their lives by singing songs of worship to their Father God who protects and looks after them, even supplying angels to keep watch over them. Jesus spoke about a little child leading the way and children can be leaders and examples in giving praise to God as they love God and sing to him.

Some years ago, I was involved with Youth with a Mission’s ‘King’s Kids’ teams who were encouraged to worship God and then give performances to adults who were blessed by their vibrancy and originality. Each team was quite unique and received teaching that taught them to be bold and pray for the adults who attended the gatherings even asking and believing for God to heal all manner of illnesses. God so often answered their simple prayers straight away. Jesus said that there would be much joy in seeing God answer prayer and this joy so easily can turn into song.

Children are also responders, so when singing songs to God is suggested to them, they tackle the idea with great enthusiasm and sincerity. As they learn to worship God, it becomes the most natural thing for them to do and as they learn various songs one can hear them singing when just on their own while playing. Worshipping God, especially the singing that is involved with this, can become a way of life for them and the most natural thing for them to do. When they get to read about God in their Bibles and simple Bible stories, such as in Diamond Books, they can realise how much God loves them so that their singing can become love songs to their Creator and Redeemer.Let’s not stop children learning about God and coming to Him or put barriers in their way, for “of such” said Jesus, “is the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 19:13-15

My ‘Daddy’

Yesterday was a very special day for me as it would have been my dad’s 94th birthday. He sadly died in 1980 but he leaves memories that cannot be taken away from me. My dad struggled being a father but he did the best he could and I do so appreciate the humour he gave to me which I wrote about in a poem when he died.

With the brokenness of our society, many children (and adults) may not even know who their dad is. Some have such fractious and limited experiences of a father that they grow up lop-sided and don’t know what it means to relate and have a father around.

I became very excited when I discovered that God is my ‘Daddy’ in every sense of the word. In Romans 8 of the Bible, the writer (Paul the apostle) talks about God being called ‘Abba’ the root meaning of which being ‘Daddy’. Abba, Father, is a colloquial term for Father God which makes God so intimate and near and indeed real. Closely related to this is God being a Shepherd to us – indeed Jesus was called the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep (us humans being likened to these animals who easily just follow each other around).

A good daddy looks after his children, providing for them, teaching them, disciplining them when necessary (and in the right way) and helping them through the struggles of life. He also plays with them, gives them treats, listens to them and loves them to bits in a whole host of ways. ‘Daddy’ God supersedes all earthly dads as His love is pure and so knowing of each of His children. He is super good and wants only good things for His children (anyone who believes in Jesus and trusts Him) so we can simply talk to our ‘ Daddy’ about anything and He will sort out the issues and dilemmas we face.

Children loved Jesus when He walked the earth and He certainly loved them even shooing his disciples away when they tried to stop the children coming to Him. Jesus was the human (though wholly God as well) form of Daddy God so we could see and appreciate who Daddy is today. Children in our societies may need to hear this truth magnified to them so that they can know the security and love of their heavenly Daddy. In Book 1 of ‘The Creation Series’ there is a picture of some children sitting on their father’s knee which shows graphically what a father can do. Our heavenly ‘Daddy’ is like that and wants us and each of our children to climb onto His lap and snuggle into His love. That’s what Jesus made possible – the connection between earth and heaven – the way became open for each of us to relate to ‘Daddy’ God who for so long (seen in the Old Testament of the Bible)  seemed distant and harsh.

I loved my daddy but I love my ‘Daddy’ more. Nothing can separate me from His love! (Read the whole of Romans, chapter 8 to find out more!).

Grace at Easter

Yes we do have so much to thank God for at this Easter time and yes we can continue to give thanks for our food on a daily basis but there is more to the grace of Easter. Grace can mean undeserved favour and of course we humans have been given this by God.

I have been amazed reading the accounts of the Easter story in the Bible how poised and so in control was Jesus at all times it seems. When accused with all manner of things, while being slapped and spat at, he remained silent. On the cross itself, he was thinking of other people, e.g. his mother who he put into the care of his best friend, John; and even offering forgiveness to a criminal hanging on a similar cross beside his.

I find when I’m accused of something, I want to defend myself and I certainly want to tell someone about how unjustly I have been treated, yet the grace of God that existed really when Jesus was born (or even before that when he was in the womb of a simple young girl, Mary who God saw willing to be a huge part of his human plan) is so huge and life changing.

We so often want to judge others and make them seem less than us yet Jesus gave us the example of always stepping lower and in humility serving and giving and walking away sometimes to avoid negativity.

To think that God spared his only Son for over 33 years – what a huge risk and yet what a wonderful gift to all mankind.

I was singing ‘Ride on, ride on in Majesty’ last Palm Sunday and realised that the Father on His sapphire throne was looking out for Jesus to return to him during this time that we call ‘Holy Week’ – that week before his Son was crucified.. He had been separated from him for such a long time (in human terms) and was looking forward to Him coming back to him where He is now.

Our children can enter into the grace at Easter by us getting alongside any child we know and telling them what Easter is all about. Don’t let the Easter eggs be a distraction, even though they have the hidden meaning of having new life that symbolises the new life to be found when we trust Jesus. Let these little ones know that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives that they can find and live in and experience the grace of God for a lifetime.

All is Well

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!

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.

Surprised By Joy

Yes – a title for one of C.S. Lewis’s books and a good read, too, but are we surprised when we have lots of joy? I am of the belief that we are meant to have joy continually for “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)  and don’t we need strength all the time?

Joy is so different from being happy, an emotion that fluctuates with circumstances and situations, so how can we get it?  It is considered a fruit of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit (given to us so that we could complete God’s work on earth after Jesus Christ went back to heaven from our planet). We each need to become Christians first and then let the Holy Spirit daily fill us (continually is best!). The Holy Spirit is given to every believer so that his fruit of love e.g. joy can come out of our lives.

We’re encouraged in John’s gospel to ask anything in Jesus’ Name as believers, too – so that our joy can be full as we see his answers. What an invitation and how we need to simply trust God to do what he says.

As we go through difficult and challenging times we can find that the joy of the Lord keeps welling up in us to help us to overcome.  We can smile more when we realise that God is in control (and we use less muscles to smile than to frown so it is well worth going for it!)

God must have been so full of joy when he created our world including all those strange and wonderful creatures some of which the human eye can’t even see except under a microscope. When he made the first humans he must have had a twinkle in his eye knowing that all subsequent human beings would be unique and wonderfully made.  He knew that we would need him to get on with one another and to learn to love as he loves. Thus, he provided the Holy Spirit to give us the means to relate well and  to display his character on Earth .

‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books relishes in God’s wonder working joy filled world and shows many diversities and varieties of his creation for little eyes to see and appreciate.  What child isn’t fascinated by little ants rushing around carrying leaves on their back that are more than double their size or counting the spots on a ladybird? Let your 3-4 year olds be blessed with this boxed set of 8 books that will enable them to be in awe of the great God who made all things well.

P.S. When our lives are half-filled with his joy or display no joy at all there is probably a reason for this.  Try getting more sleep or searching one’s heart to see if there is anything in our lives that is displeasing to him who knows us so well.  Then we have more freedom to choose his best and are enabled to receive the power to resist temptation and then to even glimmer with joy!

Born to Die

Jesus Christ was born on time and his mission to die for the whole world was spot on time, too. God is never too early or too late with what he does.

It’s obvious that after we are born we have to die sometime (unless Jesus comes back first and takes us to be with him forever – and we are still waiting for his second coming) but God has some amazing plans that enable us to die while we live if we will yield to him.  God wants to so fill our lives that the self life dies (we are told to reckon ourselves as dead – see the whole  book of Romans in the Bible) and then we can be fully alive in him. Then strangely enough we get to live life to the full as a result.

There are hardships, difficulties and circumstances that we wouldn’t have chosen but God uses these all for our good (Romans 8:28).  Diamonds are bedded in the depths of the earth and until they are discovered, honed and polished one can’t see their true value.  Similarly, we are like diamonds being polished by our maker and as we surrender ourselves to him then the true value of what he has made  comes out and shines and becomes evident to all.

That is why diamonds are so graphic in giving us an example of deadness (looking of no value) and real life (when polished – showing what they were meant to be and appreciated). So with Diamond Books – we are endeavouring to show children the life of God that is available to them so that they can grow and become fully developed and mature as they take in God’s life changing word.

Then we can say ‘beautiful, beautiful’ – God makes all things new and all we have to do is play our part in his tapestry of the world we live in.

So this Christmas let’s thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love to us as individuals and to mankind as a whole.  Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters round the world who struggle, are persecuted in a big way and have few of the benefits that we in the west experience. We can pray and give to them and make a huge difference.

Colours

The spectrum of the rainbow is amazing with green the central colour – the colour of heaven!  Green is such a tranquil colour and God must have known this when he created the grass and the leaves and all the green creatures, birds and animals.

I am amazed that God has put so much colour into our world and not one colour clashes when you look at a garden of flowers or an array of trees. The beauty, order and symmetry of God’s world is staggering as well as the sheer enormity and extravagance of it all.

Here in England, it is Autumn still – a late season this year with the leaf colours ranging from deep reds, through all the oranges and browns and yellows that there are I think. There are still some evergreens on show. Just glimpsing a few views across any given landscape in the UK at this time of year results in awe and wonder at the sheer immensity and intricacy of it all.

I am thankful that God has always promised us the seasons even in the order of Winter following Autumn and Spring  following Winter and then Summer coming after Spring and then Autumn appearing.  God is a faithful Creator. The variety in life is  certainly the spice of life and keeps us on our toes with the changing weather of each day within each season.

God is full of surprises so that (I think) we have to learn to depend on him for everything we say and do.  Without his input into our lives in the way of love and provision we wouldn’t have much but with his help and nearness and strength we have more than most. We are winners if God is on our side and he can be on anyone’s side if we ask him!