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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!

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.

Beautiful Diamonds

The human race can reflect God’s beauty as we yield and surrender to our maker. God’s grace then becomes apparent and the beauty of Christ begins to show.  This takes humility and meekness and a willingness to embrace total servanthood.

The way up is usually the way down for us humans.  As we seek to please God, we realise we have nothing much to give him who made everything and everyone. Sometimes we can feel that we have a flickering candle to give him but he takes that or even a spark of that and makes our lives beautiful in his time.

His time for working is so different from ours. We want everything instantly but God takes time with us to produce something more beautiful than we ever imagined.  (What grape was made in a day?) So often we don’t see the beauty ourselves but we are aware of that beauty in others who are mirroring Christ and are empowered with the Holy Spirit that covers their natural weaknesses.

In this busy age that we are living in, we need to provide oases for our children to be able to be still in, for them to take in God’s goodness, relax in his love and then give themselves to God.  Samuel (see 1 Samuel in the Bible) was only a young boy when God called him by calling his name.  The adults around him weren’t aware of God’s voice but Samuel heard a voice and acted on it.  From that time on, Samuel began to have a relationship with God that made him such a mighty influence in Israel and a mentor for King David.

Why not snuggle up with a child and look at ‘The Creation Series’ and see what beautiful things God has done in making this world and us humans. There is nothing to compare with the beauty of God’s creation which varies from day to day and the sheer volume and diversity of the life he has made is truly awesome.

Diamonds form in the dark, have to be dug out of the ground from deep within the earth and then have to be honed and polished to show their true worth and beauty. The darker our experiences of life even as children, the greater the potential for the beauty of Christ to show when we each realise the magnitude of God’s love and purpose for us individually as well as collectively.

Resting

I’m not so good at this but have asked the Lord to teach me. He wants us in balance and we’re of no use to him if we are burnt out.

The Bible clearly teaches us that we are to cease our own works and do his.  Then we can enter into his rest (see Hebrews 4) and then be led by him to do what he wants.  As we learn to abide (I love that word) our energies and strength can come from God and our lives can make a far greater impact than if we tried to do things ourselves. By including him in everything we do (even finding keys that happened to us this morning!) He gets the credit for our lives and what happens in them.

I’m convinced that God wants us to enjoy life and we can do that as we learn to get the right amount of rest. Then we can laugh, have fun and be released from the intensity of pushing ourselves further than God intends for us.  Striving and stress are not part of his way for us as then we have that tendency of trying to do things in our own strength which is futile.

Psalm 37 (my favourite Psalm) speaks about resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for him. I so easily go ahead of him or lag so far behind that it takes a lot to catch up! As we delight in him, he does give us the desires of our heart that only he knows about.

Our children need the right amount of rest.  As they are still growing and developing, their sleep actually moulds how tall they will be – we actually grow when we sleep as children. How amazing is our God to allow for that growth. What our children experience affects them as they grow up e.g. being subject to too many of the sun’s rays without adequate protection can produce skin cancer in later life.  Not honouring the Lord as children will sometimes produce cynics or rebels or even worse.

God rested on the seventh day after the six days of creation. What a wonderful pattern for us to follow.  Teaching children this basic rest principal of resting from what has been done in the week will set them up for a balanced adulthood. ‘God’s world’ (Book 1 of ‘The Creation Series’) touches on this.

Be blessed by resting in him, the great God of the universe. He’s paved the way for us to rest in that he took all the blame for our sins and died a terrible death. Because of this, we  gain the benefits of a life hidden in him so that we can rest and be ready for his perfect plans and will to enfold in us.

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.

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!

Greenhouses

“People who live in greenhouses can’t afford to throw stones” is I think an accurate jingle that we hear bandied about sometimes – (please correct me if I have stated this inaccurately).  A greenhouse can be a warm, beautifully smelling home to lots of plants and maybe the cat that can get into it but it can also be a smelly, neglected and cold building. If you were a greenhouse which type would you be or want to be?

I love the smell of geraniums and tomatoes in a greenhouse and if I was a plant I’d love to be under the glass and shade of a non draughty building except when it gets really hot and opening the windows is necessary. This analogy reminds me of the fruit that God wants to produce in all our lives – love – (joy, gentleness, kindness, self-control, goodness, peace, patience and faithfulness – all being the facets of love – see Galatians 5:22-23) produced by just being in an atmosphere that is conducive to growth and being fed aright. When God produces the right conditions and we yield to his leading (even if it is not of our choosing) then our circumstances around us can produce the fruit God requires.  We need the water of God’s word (the Bible) and the Holy Spirit (anointing and guiding) and sunshine of God’s love itself to produce in us a replica of himself – that’s what he’s aiming at in us anyway.

It is also true for the saplings (our children). They need the right conditions to thrive and the right teaching and nurturing to grow as God intended them to.  ‘The Creation Series’ serves little ones well so that they can appreciate God as the creator of everything and stand in wonder at a beautiful butterfly or a frightened frog or just the drops of rain on a pane of glass,  let alone the dew/snow on a spider’s web. Help children to grow by buying this boxed set of 8 books that they will really love. By doing so, we hope to sell all our current print run and then reprint more inexpensively, so that orphans and poor children can have access to these books, too.

Some children in the world won’t have heard of/know about greenhouses but we can still produce the right conditions for a child to grow well and then into maturity. ‘The Creation Series’ seeks to give a good foundation for their growth. May you enjoy the books, too!

Brevity

Life for us humans is so incredibly short.  To think that the likes of Noah and his contemporaries lived hundreds and hundreds of years. Among them was Enoch who the Bible says walked with God and then was not because God took him (Genesis 5:24).  Our lives are in the hand of our maker.

The frailty of human life staggers me.  We are so fragile and so complex and yet most of us function OK.  Our brains far surpass the most sophisticated of computers and each brain is unique – no prototypes here!

For all our ‘cleverness’, the Proverb writer (possibly King Solomon) simply says that all our efforts are like the wind – they come and go and are really futile even though we can think them important.

Caring for my elderly mother just recently brought it home to me that all that really matters is love.  Mum just wants me around so that she can receive more love and appreciation which in old age can be lacking on a consistent basis. The familiarity and security of having her daughter around her is a great comfort.  However, at those times that I can’t be with her, a greater comfort is available in the person of the Holy Spirit who is called the comforter.  He makes all the difference as he is around us individually 24/7.

Let’s encourage our youngsters to appreciate those who are much older than they are and learn early in life that age is important and greater honour and respect needs to be bestowed on such.

The Creation Series can be appreciated by all ages.  Try using these books with a child showing and explaining to an older person (perhaps their Grandma or Grandad) the wonders of what God has made.  It will cheer them up and revitalise in many of them the wonder of creator God.

Children can be blessed beyond their parents highest expectations with learning to give to the oldest ones in our society so that they, too, can be connected to the One who loves them so much.

Moving Forward

Can you trust someone enough to free fall backwards into their arms? I’ve done it occasionally but it takes a lot of assurance and confidence in the person catching you to achieve it without disaster.

I love the idea of living just one day at a time and one step at a time.  God doesn’t expect us to hop along or even run along but to walk steadily with his Spirit in us and Jesus beside us and Father God watching out for us.  We have so much security and stability being helped by our great God who takes interest in every detail of our lives.  As he created the tiniest of insects and every little grain of sand and still notices when a sparrow falls to the ground, he takes pleasure in helping us humans to achieve the potential that he made us for.

I am staggered at the way God encourages us to keep going and not to look back at past mistakes or choices.  Then we can focus on what’s ahead – so much abundance to enjoy. I’m not very good at having fun and enjoyment in my life but when I do, life takes on the balance that God intended.  I love a good laugh and we’re told that laughter is like medicine so I try to laugh as much as I can. Then we can become more whole and balanced and able to steer in the direction God intends for us.  He has such good plans for every single human on the planet.  He has no favourites.  We’re all his special treasure and delight.

So the next time you feel you are going backwards we can realise that every stumbling block or negative happening can be a springboard for greater blessing.  We can learn from these times of difficulty and there’s always so much to learn. So our backward steps can lead to more forward steps as we trust our maker who knows us so intimately and loves us to bits.

Children need to know even more that God has a future for them and that they can trust God in the here and now as well. As they learn to delight in God being around them then they can learn to pray so that the desires of their heart can be voiced.  A lot of the time children focus on their own needs which God is interested in and committed to meet but like us adults they and us can steadily learn that God wants us to consider others who have much less than ourselves.

‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books introduces children to the big wide world that God created and how he loves all that he has made.  As youngsters capture this big picture of God then their faith can rise and they can trust God for all that they need and also for the needs of others. So often the simple faith of a child can shame us adults but then we are encouraged by Jesus to become childlike in the way we trust God.

Let’s not put anything in the way of children that will stop them from moving forward with God at the helm of their lives.