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Come

I’m returning to this simple word that means so much. I think that this word is one of God’s favourites as he wants everyone in the whole wide world to come to him so that he can love each of us. God’s love is so immense and yet so often overlooked as we focus on the negatives around and the things we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste.

God requires us to have a simple faith as we take God at his word. The words in Matthew 11 come to mind that are so incredibly comforting, helpful and sustaining.

In the Contemporary English Bible Matthew 11:28-30 reads (and this version is even better read aloud!) – Jesus Christ is speaking:-

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.”

Jesus encouraged little children to come to him and warned the disciples not to hinder them for theirs is the kingdom of God – possibly more easily  gained by them than us adults. Jesus actually warned us that if we put an obstacle in front of a child it would be better for us that a millstone crushed us as in God’s sight allowing a child easy access to him is priority in his eyes. We’re to be like children, too – not childish but childlke just simply believing what God says in his word, the Bible, and not questioning what he says.

So, be encouraged in your quest to develop your child’s potential, to come in as many ways as you can to Jesus, whether through reading the Bible or a book about him or watching a film to inspire your interest in him. Be sure to emphasise Jesus as being the one who we come to as he is “the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but through me,” said Jesus in John 14:6. One simple way is to give children books about God that will inspire them to learn more which is why we would recommend ‘The Creation Series’ written to be read to 3–4 year olds but enjoyed by older children too as they read it for themselves. There’s an Activity Book and a Creation Sounds CD and Songbook to go with it too – just order from our website.

 

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.

 

Gracious, Graceful or Grateful?

Am I gracious or graceful or even grateful! When growing up, I remember I used to get so confused with so many similar sounding words e.g. consternation, constellation and constipation or flattery, factory and facsimile. Of course, I used to make mistakes in my speech and now I have to scan my mind to find the right word for a particular comment I wish to make.

Graciousness speaks to me about kindness. When we say things, people can either react or disagree with what we say and even if the latter is true some people can couch it by saying things in a gentle way without being abrupt or rude or even loud.

Being graceful makes me think of a ballerina strutting around making beautiful shapes with her body and being spot on with the timing of the music she moves to. This word also reminds me of Jesus who in John 1 came to us full of grace and truth. This sort of grace is linked with undeserved favour that God has freely given to all of mankind.

‘To be grateful’ we can all do many times in a day. Even when people do little acts of kindness to us we can appreciate them and say ‘thank you’. It doesn’t take much to say and do this. However, we, as Christians, are called to come to God with a grateful heart even when things don’t go our way. I’m reminded of the song ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart…’ Sometimes it is a sacrifice to do this and we have to use our will power to acknowledge the wonders of what God has given to us. It’s easier to be grateful when we see a beautiful sunset before us  or seeing a newborn baby for the first time but when the hardships and difficulties assail us it is harder to keep being grateful to God. We can so easily become grumpy and bitter and forget our Maker.

Let’s encourage children to develop their vocabulary and learn bigger words. They can acquire these more easily if we adults speak these words to them and then if they don’t understand the word can be explained and a word added to their understanding for use whenever they need it.

The Creation Series using language that is not patronising or too simple for reading to 3-4 years. Older children reading the books for themselves can find the vocabulary just right and at the same time their world is expanded to see what God did at the beginning of time. What a privilege is ours to be able to explain and show children the wonders of God’s creation and the wonderful words and developed in the human race that he has instigated for them to use.

Being gracious, graceful and grateful will never be mistaken again once our children grasp their different meanings and get their tongues round the individual words!

 

Foundation

Have you got a foundation? Do you wear a foundation?! Does it cover up the real you? Does a foundation matter? Is it essential? Do you want a priceless foundation that is solid and will take you through any challenges and pressures life throws up?

I strongly believe that we can each have a solid foundation that is based on the truth of what God tells us in the Bible. It seems simplistic or even naïve but the facts are for the tasting. God loves each one of us not for what we do or how we’ve been born or because of where we live but because he loves us unconditionally. He’d love us all to connect with him and be blessed beyond our wildest dreams but even if we choose not to, his love for us doesn’t diminish because “God is love” (see 1 John). He doesn’t change his character to fit us!

Many of today’s children here in the west are wrapped up in technology and weave in and out of the busy lives of their parents. However, in some parts of the world, the technology isn’t so advanced and children can often still be children and have the advantages of being able to play and explore more.

Each child, like each adult, needs a foundation to build on. The Bible provides an anchor when times get tough and when problems are submitted to a Heavenly Father who is directly interested in each human being, he provides the way through so that each can learn to trust someone far bigger than our human eyes can see. Children can be reassured as they look around at creation (that they can see) that a grand designer is behind it all even if sometimes the adults doubt and complicate or simply listen to good scientific theories that sound so plausible and ignore the facts.

God was present at the dawn of time when our world was created and he can supply the strong foundation for our lives. As we adults learn to trust the One who knows everything and everyone, so the children around us can copy us. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes (12:1 – NIV). As we as families and individuals remember our creator, then we can receive that foundation which will keep us secure and poised. Read out the Psalms to your family and let our children make up tunes to go with them. As we sing and praise and give God thanks, then our foundation becomes even more solid.

‘The Creation Series’ for reading to 3-4’s helps to give children a solid foundation. Based on the Bible, this boxed set of 8 books provides visuals to go with the words of God that a child will always remember plus an opportunity for each of them to hide God’s word in their heart by learning to memorise Scripture.

Children will always be indebted to any adults who share with them the foundation to life based on the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work who of course was very much present at creation (see Genesis 1:26)!

Troubleshooting

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

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

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

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

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

Communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

Congratulations!

Congratulations to all you parents who are doing the most important job of all. It might not seem very glamorous or feel very wonderful but the day to day work that you do is amazingly valuable.

We were active parents for nearly 5 years to two children that we adopted. We did our best as indeed all parents aspire to. Sometimes, as has happened to us, the work we put in isn’t appreciated. However, God sees our hearts and he sees the motives behind all that we did.

Being a parent is very difficult although with many joys amidst the challenges.  To have mentors and helps along the way is so needful. The Bible gives many words of wisdom about being the parents we need to be.  God encourages us in James 1 to ask for wisdom and if we don’t doubt that God can give this to us we can get every bit of wisdom we need. God promises in the words of Scripture to be our strength as we seek His joy in the midst of problems.  “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:7) not forgetting that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) are so encouraging Scriptures to keep us buoyant. Sometimes when we feel we can’t go on God shows up to help us – he is faithful to his own.

Why am I labouring all this? We parents are the most priceless people in a child’s life. Congratulations for having children at all – they are precious gifts from God even if born in difficult circumstances.  They are each wanted and loved by God and God can enable us to be caretakers of them even if they don’t appreciate it at times. No child is an accident but formed by God himself.

Congratulations to you mums who nearly had abortions but saved your babies in time.  The development of babes in the womb is so amazing and starts on Day 1 of conception.  How can we see these as foetuses – they are little lives in the making.

Keep at it, parents who still have your youngsters at home.  There is no better place for them to be nurtured and loved even if you have to exert tough love that to a child might not feel very loving.  There is a place for discipline and obedience in the home which brings order and correction and respect.

To help with God’s orderly ways, try reading ‘The Creation Series’ from Christian Focus Publications or online to your 3-4 year olds. You can order a set from your local library so that others can use them after you have finished with them. Congratulations for helping others to appreciate and realise the wonders of God’s ordered ways which makes us humans aspire to order and tidiness (somehow!)

Good News

We all love a good story. Sometimes we can get jealous of other people’s success or can fail to join in with celebrations of others.  However, we can all enjoy good news.

The best good news I know is of Jesus Christ coming to our planet to rescue us people from continuing in a lifestyle of sin. Good Friday and Easter Day events are history but so relevant to our everyday life now. If Jesus hadn’t come to us, there would be no way of us humans being able to enjoy peace or a good conscience or knowing for certain where we are heading after this earthly life ceases.

Other good news includes being able to see the sincerity of so many doing good and well amidst much opposition and challenges often. When there is a natural disaster, it is so good to see how people help against all the odds to rescue those stuck perhaps beneath the earth from an earthquake or from floods As someone overcomes a disability or gains success in a project that has taken them all their lifetime to produce we can gladly see this as good news and rejoice with them.

The amazing arrival of babies around the globe brings more good news to families and communities. The fact that most of them are born so healthy is astounding when one thinks of the detail of the human brain alone which far surpasses any computer.

The fact that this planet produces enough food to feed the entire world is truly good news. It’s only man’s greed and lack of sharing the resources that makes it difficult for some people to have all the food they need and the clean water they require.

As God changes human hearts, the earlier in life the better then the love can go round. Children feel secure when they are loved as we adults appreciate, too. The good news that Jesus Christ can do the changing in us as we surrender to God and his ways needs to be known by children. Those who have had troubled backgrounds need that unconditional love shown them so that they can find their niche in life doing good not wrong. Children need to know, also, that it does not depend on us to be good – it all depends on God’s goodness which he can put into us. “There is none that does good, no not one” (Psalm 14:1-3) says the Bible. As we admit that we can’t be good except through God working in us, then God does a miraculous work in anyone who is willing to follow Christ.

The 8 books that form ‘The Creation Series’ lay the foundations and platform for children to know who God is as well as what he has done and is yet to do. May our children really grasp early what God has done for them and wants to do in them so that they can lead an amazing life full of adventure, fulfilling and secure.

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!

Being Gullible

I’m gullible and an open book so often but how I need to be discerning and hold back more wisely. I so easily believe what people say but then one can be taken in by liars or deceptive folk who want to lead others astray or even by sincere people who might be sincerely wrong. So, how do I stop this inclination or even the habit it may have become?

God’s word, the Bible, is true and everything I do I need to line up with this.  When I hear tragic news or something that may happen, do I check it out or do I simply believe it? Newspapers and other media don’t always have all the facts so when things are reported I can have a lop-sided view of a situation or person.

God has given us everything to live a godly life and that includes getting hold of God’s wisdom and discernment so when information is thrust at me, I can determine what is true and what is not or even check it out more carefully.  Yesterday, I received an email from my Pastor, the information in it seeming to be authentic and plausible and I acted on it immediately.  However, a good friend checked on a website relating to this news and found the email to be a hoax. How my enemy, Satan, loves to distract me from the truth.

Being gullible is not a good trait, really, as it can lead to error and wrong thinking and doing as well as speaking incorrectly.

“Help me, Lord, to wait on you more to understand what is true and what is not as my gullibility doesn’t bring glory to You and can be a stumbling block to others.”

With this in mind, let us determine to help our children to discern good and evil so that they are not taken in by what they experience with their senses but can be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. This requires diligence on the part of us adults so that we can channel and train our children in the way that God wants them to go. They can learn to wait for confirmation of a particular idea and develop habits in their young years that will stand them in good stead as they become adults.

Immerse a child in God’s word. ‘The Creation Series’ will help with this. Then our children can be free of gullibility and can have a holy boldness like Daniel and Moses had. (They were as human as we are.) God can train children in their early years to go the way of wisdom and override the foolishness of being left to their own devices.