Posts

Habits

Habits can be hidden or obvious. The vices of habits are well known and we say that these habits need to be broken. However, as humans we are incapable of breaking the root causes of such habits. I believe that only the power of the Holy Spirit can deal with these and as we submit ourselves to God in Jesus Christ then freedom can come.

The other day I had a morning when the challenges increased even after praying for no interruptions or delays to the limited time I have to work on the project God has given me to do. The electricity was cut off – how we rely on our computers and extras that so many people in other countries don’t have at all. How we rely on the usual way of doing things – a habitual way of living. So, what did I do? I prayed a little bit and panicked a bit and then set to doing some practical stuff that I hadn’t intended to do including phoning for an emergency electrician.

Then a kind friend pointed me in the right direction when I realised that the big black fuse switch was actually off when all the others were on. I hadn’t even noticed this black switch! So now, I am on catch up and endeavouring to write this blog in a matter of minutes. We are such creatures of habit that when things go differently from usual, it throws us … well it throws me!

It’s easy for us to say and quote that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) when things are going right but when the difficulties come, we can be ignorant of putting our trust in God at these times. So I am learning to do this even though it is so alien to do this. It is the truth however, just as praising God in all circumstances is alien to our minds and wills.

How we need to be flexible and taking things in our stride whatever a day may bring. Children are creatures of habit even more than adults. However, they do seem more adaptable.

As we develop good habits and allow God to break off the bad ones, then peace and contentment and order can take place in our lives. God ordered the creation of our world and then he had a rest – how we need to develop this habit in our busy lives so that we refresh and recharge to be ready and more useful in the Master’s service. Book 1 ‘God’s World’ of ‘The Creation Series’ (for reading to 3-4 year olds) illustrates this beautifully as our artist Sharon Renta has shown. May our children get into the habit of 6 days of work and one day of rest even within our families.

Dignified

This is something that we sometimes wish to be but more often we see this trait in others’ lives and respect and honour them for it.

I’m reminded of King David – an eminent king – but he had the humility to dance before the Lord in the street with very few clothes on to praise and honour and love God with all of his being. He was actually being undignified despite his high position as king. Sometimes, religion can get in the way of spontaneous worship when we don’t consider our reputation or what others may think and just do what is right for a particular time or occasion. King David’s wife, Michal, laughed at David and as a result of her giving that haughty look, she remained childless during her life. Haughtiness is something that God seems to hate and it is mentioned as being so in the book of Proverbs in the Bible.

Jesus was humiliated hours before his death and he died a most undignified death stripped and on a cross, yet there was something about him that was truly dignified and magnifieent that one couldn’t help but admire. He remained silent in the face of his accusers and only spoke in response to truth that was bantered in front of him. He loved each person to the end and only died because he loved the human race enough to die in their place when us human sinners were deserving of death instead (as the wages of sin is death – see Romans 3:23).

Being dignified enables people to respect a person as they keep poised even in the face of much opposition. Nelson Mandela was like this in the South African prison he stayed in for many years. He didn’t lose his spirit of knowing what was right and of course was able to continue the anti-racist call by becoming the leader of South Africa after his release and was able to transform attitudes and ways.

How we parents need to learn to be dignified even in the most difficult of circumstances so that our children can learn what it is to be like Jesus. We can be mirrors for our children so that when they get things wrong (which we all do) then our children know that there is forgiveness with Jesus. Books 7 and 8 of Set A of Diamond Books help a child’s understanding of this. May these books bless all who read them!

Being Busy

I think that this is what most of the human race is good at and we women even more so. I find myself multi-tasking sometimes up to 10 jobs at a time which can make one gain a headache! However, it is my opinion that being busy can cover up all sorts of things like insecurity, wanting to please people and feeling needed to mention a few.

Once, we get hold of Jesus’ recommendation to abide in Him (see John 15) – to dwell in Him and rest in Him then, he can do His work in us. We can learn to cease from our own works and learn to do his will which doesn’t have to be that frantic or rushed. One doesn’t see Jesus racing around even though His mission was to save the world! Sometimes, Jesus even delayed helping and even when there were crises at hand. When Lazarus died and his two sister petitioned Jesus to come to them, he purposely delayed coming to them as He was so intimately connected with His Father God that He knew He had to wait for a greater happening to occur and glory going to God as Lazarus was raised from the dead.

Again, I mention my favourite Psalm 37 that speaks about resting in the Lord and waiting patiently for Him and then He will give the desires of our heart. Only God knows what’s deep within each of us, and yet if we remain connected closely to our Maker, then He can direct us if we are prepared to be still and listen. Of course, at times, we can still hear God’s voice even on the go but these impulsive thoughts can sometimes lead us to seeking God quietly for confirmation especially when we have big decisions we have to make.

Somehow, this generation of children seem to be more on the go mentally than the previous one, with all the technology around them filling their waking hours. I was hearing about a Mum who abstained from any social media and phone use at all with her young daughter for a day. They found that they could actually do lots more creative things both on their own and together. At first, it was a huge wrench, especially for the young girl but she came into balance. Moments of stillness and just stopping the usual routines can help us feel more alive and able to take life more steadily at a more even pace with time to spare to even talk to people. Our children need to learn this – which is one reason we have provided ‘The Creation Series‘ (Set A of Diamond Books) so that a young child can snuggle up close to an adult and read about God’s order in His world which includes resting for one day of the week. If God needed to rest and cease from busyness, so do we!

Snow

I had a little ‘Snoopy’ badge that said ‘Think snow’- don’t know where it’s gone now – it might show up when I do more decluttering!

This morning, we have snow coming down in flakes and settling on flat surfaces including our garage roof. I was like a little child excited with seeing these ice globules coming out of space. I have to say, I love the snow and if it makes me more childlike then I am right in line with what Jesus advocated (see Matthew 18:3). I’m still convinced that one of Jesus’ favourite words is ‘come’ and he gave this invitation to children as well as to adults (see Matthew 19:14 and Matthew 11:28).

Snow is mentioned in the Bible 24 times sometimes referring to the work that Jesus did in dying on the cross and coming to life again. Through this act of obedience to his Father, he was able to make us humans as white as snow, having forgiven all our sins when he died. The wonderful thing about snowflakes is that they disappear and the same flakes don’t reappear in creation at all. It’s just like our sins – once removed by Jesus, they do not reappear before Him again. We may well sin similarly again although hopefully not intentionally but the same blood of Jesus covers our sins from His sight so that one day we can stand before God pure and clean. King David wrote about this in Psalm 51.”Wash me and I will be whiter than snow” he penned as he cried to God.
The Bible also makes another analogy of our sins being removed as far as the east is from the west (see Psalm 103:12).

So when it snows or children see snow, we can remind them of what God says. They can be clean and pure before God just like us adults can be and they don’t have to earn it either! Jesus did the work for all of us!

Fact or Fiction

Just recently, we had a family problem that nobody could understand. A wedding was called off, relatives had come from Australia and there was deadlock between some members of the family. While others of us looked on, it was easy to gossip about the whole situation and even surmise what we thought was going on. However, we, the ones observing things, had no idea about the true facts of the matter and as one member of the family stated ‘it is none of our business and we must not interfere’. Our job was to pray and let God bring reconciliation and release the facts. In the meantime, we needed to keep our prone-to-tattling tongues still and wait for all to be revealed!

Jesus said “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (see John 8). The truth of a matter reveals the facts so that everyone can ‘sing off the same hymn sheet’ and misunderstandings can be avoided. Facts can’t be disputed but sometimes it is difficult to discern what is fact and what is fiction.

Luke, a doctor, wrote the gospel book of Luke and the book of Acts. He was a very detailed and intelligent character who didn’t actually meet Jesus but interviewed those who knew him to gain eye witness accounts of what did happen. Luke carefully explained that his aim was to write an orderly account of the facts about Jesus from the time of his birth until he was taken into Heaven so that the reader would know the certainty of the things that had already been instructed to them (Luke 1:1-4). The book of Acts was a continuation of his gospel that showed the facts from the time when Jesus was taken up into heaven right through to the formation of the early church with its commitment to spread the good news about Jesus everywhere!

It’s easy for children to be swayed by ideas and feelings without looking at the facts of a situation or even to ascertain what is fact or fiction in what they read. Because the Bible is authentic and is known to be true, they can trust the words that are in it. That is why every Diamond Book is like a diamond coming out of Heaven with nuggets of truth inside and many facets on the outside, showing children the facts about what God is like and how he loves everyone and has a plan for each person. Let’s not deny children the ‘facts of life’ that provide for them the journey of life that is full of peace, joy, contentment and purpose with security as found in the Bible itself.

Changes and the one who doesn’t change

“Through all the changing scenes of life…” comes to mind, but when I looked it up in my hymnbook it wasn’t there. If anyone out there who is reading this can supply the rest of the hymn, that would be a blessing! I know this hymn has some really good words but can I remember them?

I’m not very good when changes occur especially the ones that happen really quickly and take one unawares. I’ve been thinking about how children manage the huge changes around them not only in their physical development which is colossal but also in their day-to-day encounters. Starting school is a biggy for many children and then moving up a class each year presents yet more changes and sometimes anxieties. Because children have an open slate, as it were, and don’t have a history of what may happen in their lives, I think they are quite resilient. Many of them don’t show their fears or worries. Sometimes these come out in later in life and sometimes unpleasant experiences need counsel and prayer.

The only One who doesn’t change is Jesus – representing God on earth when he came to visit our planet and yet being alive today to help us just as much and more than he helped people on the earth when he came over two thousand years ago. In the book of Hebrews Chapter 13, it reads “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Wow – what a statement! As children grasp this, they can be secure in knowing One who can help them through the changes that occur to them. Hence our focus in Diamond Books on the unchanging character of God.

Power of Words

I have been very conscious recently that there is great power associated with words. The most vital words for our lives are those found in the Bible and they offer us an insight into who God is and how we humans can connect with Him.

As I was preparing to do this blog, I looked up a website (http://blog.biblesforamerica.org/two-important-greek-words-in-the-bible-emlogosem-and-emrhemaem/) that explains, far better than I could do, two very important Greek words about the use of ‘word’ in the Bible. The word ‘logos’ refers to the constant written word of God and the word ‘rhema’ refers to the word Jesus spoke which gives spirit and life not only when Jesus was on earth but even today. The two words complement each other it seems.

Words that are spoken to us are very powerful especially if one’s love language is ‘affirmation’. One small word can make a huge difference to the way one feels or acts or goes about the day. The other evening, I was a bit upset and, as I relaxed, I sensed the Holy Spirit say to me very clearly ‘You matter, you are Mine’. The Holy Spirit speaks on behalf of Jesus into our hearts so that the Christian life is one great adventure, He leading and guiding us with His eye upon us. He knows what we think, He knows the way that we take and sometimes He has to direct us differently than what we expected. It’s good to know also that He works everything together for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28) The simple words that God brought to my attention are making a huge difference to my daily life (even though I still fall over and blow it). Positive words are such an encouragement and of course many are based on the written word of God. “I have loved you with an everlasting love” the prophet Jeremiah wrote (see Jeremiah 31:3) shows that we (I) matter and Jesus said, “You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures…(see John 15:14). I am chosen of God and belong to Him. God is so interested in the individual! In Isaiah 43:! God is quoted as saying, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

May our children become adventurous in this life, getting to read and pray the words of the Bible so that when the Holy Spirit speaks to them in their hearts they are assured that these words come from God as they learn to discern their true source as being based on the inspired word of God that was written long ago by men who were agents to write God’s words.

One day

Taking one day at a time is fine in theory but putting it into practice is a different scenario. I think it takes faith to live this way without projecting into the future or mulling over what has gone before.

Since looking after my Mum at home and juggling a business and dealing with the losses that make the present day difficult, I realise that I need God in my life more and more. I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 12:2, part of which says “See, God has come to save me.” It’s present tense and shows how personally God takes an interest in me and indeed each of us. A week ago, I felt like a caged bird whose cage was filling with water and then God sent a friend to listen and pray with me which made all the difference.

I am finding that when the stresses increase, so do the temptations to eat more, watch TV more or simply not to be disciplined about the times I go to bed. A day can depend on the amount of sleep I get but then even if I haven’t had my quota, then I can learn to lean and depend on God and abide in Him, the one who can practically save me from moving away from what He has planned for this day.

One day in history changed the whole course of human civilisation. Jesus not only died (we remember this on Good Friday each year) but the unique day came 3 days after this when he was raised from the dead. This means that Jesus is alive and can make the huge differences in our lives if we let Him. Jesus came so that our lives could be washed, cleansed and forgiven. The sin that so easily besets us can be obliterated and God says He puts it in the depths of the sea, never to be recalled by Him again. One day, we are each going to stand before our Maker when there is a reckoning for us all but because of what Jesus did on the first Good Friday and the first Resurrection Day, then because we have accessed His forgiveness, we can confidently stand before God as Jesus stands for us and with us. Knowing that Jesus’ blood has covered our sins, Almighty God who can’t have any sin or unholiness in His presence, allows us to enter heaven because Jesus’ blood covers our sins. If Jesus had just died and not come alive again then we would have had nobody to vouch for us before Almighty God, the One Jesus called Father. How amazing is this!

So, in the light of eternity, my struggles in any given day on earth, are so small, yet are working in me a way to grow and develop into God’s likeness as the Holy Spirit does the work within us. Children need to know that God loves us as we are, not because we are good, as none of us are this. As we accept His love, then we can relax more. Often, it is forgiving ourselves that is the hardest thing to do but then God has made provision for this, also, as we seek to keep short accounts with him and allow him to forgive throughout each day so we can go to sleep in peace.

Weeping

Friday saw me clutching a box of tissues as my Mum and I went into a room to celebrate my late brother’s life. He called it a ‘Cheerful Farewell’ which he had organised and planned. He had made a professional video of himself talking and sharing his favourite musical highlights and so he had the final word. I couldn’t stop the tears and the weeping has continued. One only has to mention that Friday and I start again!

I’m aware that the Bible has many words of comfort regarding how we feel especially when life seems harrowing and upsetting. “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5) comes to mind. It’s wonderful to think that our Creator God gave us the facility to cry to release the tensions within us and keep us hopefully healthy especially emotionally in doing so. The British upper lip attitude doesn’t hold water here!

It’s good that children can cry or else we wouldn’t know that something might be wrong, especially babies and toddlers who can hardly express themselves in any other way. How we as adults need that empathy to feel with them when they hurt physically or in any other way. Again our Creator God has given most of us the ability to feel pain so that we are alerted to something wrong.

May the words of our mouths and the actions we do be loving and kind to those going through the weeping seasons of their lives. It’s so easy to ignore someone who is upset when an arm round, a hug or a kind word can make all the difference.

In the Bible it says that God holds our tears in a bottle! David (before he became the King of Israel) said, “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book.” (Psalm 56:8) As a younger Christian, I received a lot of comfort from the words ‘He knows’ as my heart would often break with circumstances in my life but God has proved Himself faithful in picking me up and carrying me – like in the poem about the footprints in the sand – only one set of prints could be seen at times and that was because the Father was holding the child in His big arms!

May God’s love reach our children so that they can realise how much they are loved and know for themselves the nearness of God in practical and definite ways. That’s one of the reasons why Diamond Books came into being!

Stress

Stress

We all get it, try to deal with it and even try to avoid it but stress is an inevitable part of life that can actually help us to keep in check and balance.

When tired, we can get things out of perspective and begin to feel things that are not true. We can be overwhelmed by circumstances and feel alone but the truth is that we are not alone especially as Christians. God has made provision for our loneliness in that when Jesus returned to Heaven, he gave the Holy Spirit to every believer to live in them so that they would have a residing friend forever.

How do we live free from this stress which is a 21st century phenomena which is experienced more and more it seems by the average human being? I have a friend who is very stable and a mature Christian and she advocates resting in God, abiding if you like. In John 15 of the Message Bible, Jesus himself says: “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined to me.” It is a fact that unless we do abide in God, we cannot produce the qualities of life that God intends or even do anything. We can attempt to do things in our own strength but the results are futile. God wants us healthy and well and has given us foods and rhythms in our lives to keep us that way (eg regular sleep patterns) and ways to exercise our bodies and minds (by meditating on God’s word) but it is only as we rest in Him that He does what is needed in and through us.

One of my favourite verses in Scripture is “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (in Psalm 37:7) or as The Message Bible puts it “Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him…”By meditating on these words in itself can produce peace and calm. God is in control even when all around us doesn’t appear so.
Children need order and rest in the midst of their many activities. As God ordered creation, then he wants to order our lives also. It’s not surprising that the content of God’s order in creation in Set A of Diamond Books, ‘The Creation Series’ appeals to autistic children it seems, I think for this very reason.
Let’s nestle close to our God in these days as the storms rage around us. We can be safe in the eye of the storm!