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Choices

We have so many to make in a given day even within an hour! How we need our sleep and that supernatural energy that comes from God to keep us alert and mindful of what is important and priority.

My first choice in the day is how I spend the first and most important hour (in my thinking) of the day – often on my knees it seems! I consider that the this hour is well spent as it keeps me in tune with my Heavenly Father, so that the Holy Spirit given to all Christians since Jesus’ ascension has a chance to impact my thoughts and heart so that I get to know what He wants in a particular day and can concentrate more on what/who God wants me to pray for. This hour used to be a duty, a choice, but now it has become a delightful thing to do even though when I’m tired or when it is dark on waking up it is harder to physically get moving with much gusto!

The breakfast choice is easy as I tend to have porridge most mornings.

As I link in with my mobile phones and the computer many more choices are put before me. Do I reply to this now?; Do I phone/email that person? Do I ignore that? etc. There’s a lot of thinking involved.

Before I start work, there is more praying to do so that I learn to lean on God throughout it, leaning not on my own understanding even with the timing of things that is always different from what I gauge.

However, there are more urgent choices to be made one of which came to my attention today when two friends urgently asked me to do something that to me was a bit alien and risked a family relationship continuing to flourish. I must say, I have been in a dilemma and had to repent of fears I had and have asked God for more courage and wisdom.

One of the huge choices we each have to face and make is regarding where we intend to spend eternity. God makes it very clear that there is an eternal life to be gained which starts here after we choose to repent of our sins (as there is no sin in heaven and God hates it anyway) and trust in Jesus Christ giving him the whole of our life. It’s a simple choice with huge repercussions as we don’t know how God is going to lead us from then on. However, his plans are always good for us but the challenges and suffering that go with these will be beyond our human ability – hence the Holy Spirit to guide, help and inpact us to enable us to overcome the obstacles. Once we become Christians we suddenly have an enemy – satan and his minions that seek to pull us down and steal, kill and destroy which is why we need one another to keep us in balance and to receive instruction etc. also, the best place for this being the local church. No one of us has got everything completely right but as a body functions when each part is considered so in the family of God.

As children put their trust in Jesus (and for them it can seem easier as they start off in a more humbler way) then God can enable them to make right choices as they go along so, when the big choices of who to marry, what job to do and where am I to live come along, they can have confidence in praying about all these issues knowing that God is more than ready to answer!

In the Old Testament of the Bible (in Joshua 24:15) Joshua wrote, “Choose you this day who you will serve…” and the stark choice remains today.

Going with the Flow?

It’s easy to go with the flow. Agree with everybody; don’t cause any conflict; steady the boat; be nice all the time; follow the crowd; watch all the ‘soaps’; and have all the latest technologies. Are we meant to live like this?

Salmon fish don’t – they swim upstream in order to spawn. Flowers don’t as they grow towards the light and don’t flop over with gravity. Eagles do and glide on air currents, although all birds defy gravity, too.

What about us humans. It’s pleasant to be popular and be accepted by society and for many that is their aim. However, Christians have a different perspective as they have the amazing Holy Spirit within them that makes them new creatures (creations) which enable us to overcome obstacles that humanly we couldn’t do. I remember a time when I had to address a huge crowd of intelligent educators bringing to their notice the project God had called me to write. I was literally shaking before I started and then as friends prayed for me (beforehand and during this event) I believe God gave me the supernatural ability to communicate, something alien to my natural personality.

As Christians we are called to be in the world but not of it. When our church was praying about the vote on June 23rd last year concerning the UK staying or coming out of Europe, I came out of the church with this Scripture ringing in my mind, “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord ” and touch not the unclean thing.” (2 Corinthians 6:17). The UK did come out of Europe as we all know but it appears now that we have to push against the flow of public opinion that seems to waver continually about whether we made the right decision, even as a nation.

In order for us Christians to be effective, I think we need to be bold and express our faith which is not always popular or easy. Two preachers in southern England this past week have been found guilty of causing an offence while preaching from their Bibles. It seems that here in the UK, the Bible isn’t appreciated by many and yet the truths within it are very life changing and enable us to be the right way up instead of being lopsided by the ‘sin’ that so easily besets each of us. However, we are able to overcome the temptations we face only because of God’s enabling and power that God puts into each believer.

Sometimes our children are ostracized for being part of a Christian family. Children can be quite harsh to each other when they see something different happening or when a child goes against the flow because they have different values taught to them by their parents. Sadly, sometimes this is how bullying develops.

Jesus said that we would be persecuted for being Christians but are we Christians going with the flow around us or are we prepared to stand up and be counted for who we are and whose we are? Hopefully, this young generation of children will rise up above the apathy and religiosity of former generations to take hold of the life God gives which is truly amazing and full of the flow of life – life in all it’s fulness and to full potential!

Soaring

Here’s a word that makes us look upwards! I immediately think of an eagle soaring through the air currents.Then, I think of the jet planes soaring above the clouds. I remember one day in London when it was a beautiful sunny day and I was admiring the plane lines in the clear blue sky. I sensed the Lord saying to me, ‘Would you prefer to be like a plane or an eagle?’ After I had thought about it, I considered that being an eagle would be best as it is living and not a load of metal! There’s hope for  growth and change with a living thing and a bird can produce offspring and develop qualities. Also, for a bird like an eagle the rides can be effortless riding on the wind currents and it is very good at training its young, even though daunting and sometimes seeming extreme. The parallel here is that we can live life to the full as God intended for us (see John 10:10); we can produce offspring — all God’s idea! (see Genesis 1:28); we can develop the fruit of the Spirit (which is based in love — see Galatians 5:22-23); we are able to learn to abide in God, ceasing from our own works and doing only what He wants (see John 15:4); and we can be bold in our approach to parenthood, gaining insight from the Biblical Scriptures (e.g. Proverbs 19:18) even if it appears old fashioned and not in the current vogue. Surely, this is more exciting that being a mere aeroplane!

In my Christian life, I’ve known times when I have felt taken on the currents of God’s love into the heavenly places that we can only dream about most of the time. I don’t pretend to have had any out of the body experiences like the apostle Paul who seemed to have gone to a different spiritual level seeing all sorts of wonderful things as in a seventh heaven or like the teller of dreams prophet, Daniel, who saw such vivid ‘pictures’ of the future but when the world seems right and God seems near, one’s spirit can soar into God’s very presence especially as one worships God Himself.

The windsailers/windsurfers must experience bird-like happenings and see the world from a bird’s eye point of view.quite literally but as Christians we, too, are called to see the world from God’s point of view. We’re told that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places (see Ephesians 2:6) and so we can look down at what is going on on earth from Christ’s perspective. God wants each of us to soar so that we are bathed in his love continually just like the sun bursts out on us especially on a cloudless sunny day.

We can also soar in prayer to tap into God’s heart for people and situations anywhere on the planet. What a privilege is ours as we come responding to God’s invitation to come to Him at anytime about anything or anyone and simply believing, so that we can receive so much.

Maybe our young children can learn about the word ‘soar’ as opposed to ‘sore’ and realise that God has wonderful things in store for them both now and for eternity as they trust the One who enables them to soar in faith anchored in God’s word, the Bible — hence our focus on God’s word in Diamond Books..

God’s Way is a Way of Peace

“How sure can we be?” … This can be a dilemma in all sorts of situations but the wonderful thing is that God is practical and can help us with decisions and even with who God is. Can I be sure of Him? Can I be sure that he won’t let me down? Can I be sure that I can tune in to His voice and not be deceived? So many questions and I could go on!

I’m very impulsive and dive into all sorts of things sometimes with little thought. However, I am learning that to ‘wait and pray and ask and wait and pray’ provides a growing certainty or growing doubt that a particular way to go or do is the right or wrong thing. This helps me to be wise.

I believe God’s way is a way of peace. He brings order into our chaos and can channel our energies into His priorities. Children need to know that God is so ordered even by looking at the creation around them and knowing the pattern of day and night, the seasons, the cycles of nature and the days, months and years that make up our lives.

Jesus, I believe, was the most ordered person ever to live on the planet. He gained his instructions as to how to order his life from His Father, God, and we can do the same. Each day is unique and we can be connected with our Creator through Jesus. The person of the Holy Spirit is given to all who love Jesus and have asked him into their lives (which is what a Christian really is) so that God’s order can flow through us, too. When children have an ordered environment and routines, they thrive and so do the rest of us!

That is why the first two sets of Bible stories for children – Diamond Books Set A on ‘Creation’ and Set B on ‘Jesus’ have been written. They are based on God’s written word to us humans and it is 100% reliable and true. That’s why I have printed on my car (together with advertising pictures of the main characters of the books) ‘The best book to read is the Bible’. Our simple books reflect the truths of this marvellous Book. Diamond Books give young children a glimpse of how ordered God is. So can we be sure of God? Just look around and see his handiwork – He paints the sky in different coloured patterns each day and there’s no counting all the sand grains on the seashore but they are all ordered in their place.So are we and each child can feel secure in knowing that for sure God loves them and for sure God has a unique plan for each life if they simply connect with their Maker to find out the details!

Help!

What do I do when I need help? Binge, cry, shout, work out a plan, share about it with a friend or simply pray. I’ve done all these things but I find that when I can stop and pray, I can then be more at peace and see the answer coming. If I dwell on a particular problem, then I get all stewed up and can’t sleep.

God’s word has something to say about getting help. Psalm 121:1-2 (Good News Bible) says a lot about where we can get help.”I look to the mountains;” the Psalmist says, “where will my help come from? My help will come from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” God is a very present help in trouble so we can turn to him at any time to gain His help and perspective in a given situation.

I think that we humans try to be so independent of God. We don’t take Him at His word when Jesus says, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We think we can, but we can only produce the best when God is working through us and we let Him. As we abide and rest in  His love and power, His Spirit can guide and give us the ideas to pursue that can help us in our varying times of need. Even when in our pride we think we can do certain things, as we turn to God for help, He can do things in an even better way than we could ever have done on our own.

Jesus knew that we would need help when he returned to His Father after spending 40 days on earth following His resurrection from the dead. He told His friends that it was to their advantage that He return to heaven as then He could give us His Holy Spirit who would be with us forever and not even be limited to being in a certain place as Jesus was when on the earth. No wonder Jesus said that we would do even greater things than he had done as what He does now is multiplied by the Spirit working in every Christian and blessing others as well as blessing God – the reason we exist!

Children, particularly those that may struggle at school with various assignments, need to know that Jesus in the form of His Spirit can help them with every single task. As they learn to pray and bring even the smallest concerns to Him then God will act. Then their joy will abound as they see God not only answering their prayers by helping them in the practicals but also realising that God is indeed alive and is interested in them as individuals. How God loves us and wants the best for us!

Overwhelmed

Sometimes what life throws at us can overwhelm us. I think that this is an experience that probably all humans face some time or other.

Particularly when the unexpected happens, it can throw us in all directions. The emotional toll of such happenings can be underestimated and of course the pressures and stresses can show themselves in physical illnesses. We weren’t meant to live life on our own which is why when Jesus rose from the dead he sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in those who wanted Him and recognised their need of support and indeed a Saviour in the circumstances of life.

The Bible has something very valid to say about being overwhelmed. In the Psalms, King David poured out his heart in words and he wrote, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you (referring to God) who know my way…” (Psalm 142:3 New International version). We can be comforted that God knows the way and the way through each situation we may face. In the next Psalm he states “So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.” (Psalm 143:4 – NIV) after he explains how the enemy he knew was crushing him to the ground. Whether a physical enemy that David had to face or a pressure or stress from the enemy of our souls (satan) David was able to gain help from the Rock that was higher than him. ‘Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I’ is the words of an old song but it describes a present reality still.

Sometimes children can feel overwhelmed and they can express this in all sorts of different ways including anger, moodiness, naughty misdemeanors and even more drastic behaviour that can include violence and hatred. We need to let children that there is someone higher and bigger than even the adults around them who can help them through their troubles. Let’s not deny children their heritage which is to know God and enjoy him forever.

Diamond Books remind children of the simple truths of the Bible that are so practical and a blessing. May the different facets of God’s character be reflected in the many facets of each of the books of this project for the benefit of every child that opens, looks and reads them so that the overwhelming feelings of human life can be more alleviated by them and indeed by the God who inspired them.

Meekness

This is not a word we use much in every day life but Jesus Christ was known to be meek. I thought it meant humble but it turns out that it means being brought into submission like a wild horse being trained – out of control at first but harnessed and brought into self control.

When I first met my husband and then when he proposed, I actually asked him whether he was prepared to have someone in his life who was impatient and lacked self control. Needless to say, he took me on as I was and through our relationship, God has begun to develop these characteristics in me – amazing isn’t it? I don’t pretend to be there yet but am on the way to learning not to be impulsive and holding back rather than diving into a situation. Needless to say, my speech hasn’t always been that controlled either. The Bible clearly states in the book of James that no-one can control the tongue which also needs to be bridled. How we need the Holy Spirit to develop these fruits of love in us (see Galatians 5).

Meekness is one of the foundation stones I believe God gave me when first I ventured on doing this project of ‘Diamond Books’. Letting God control my impulsiveness and eagerness to move forward (sometimes with little thought or prayer) has been something that has been a challenge. However, God never calls us without providing the way forward and so in this I am open to be led in a more controlled way as God works in me.

None of us can produce graces of any kind in our lives. Only Jesus Christ and the work of His Spirit that he has given to indwell us as Christians can develop such qualities as meekness in us. I always laugh when that song from the 60’s “Wild Thing” is played as it reminds me of what I have been and how God is beginning to develop a more less wild person of me!

Children need to know that God is well able to develop their character and that even seemingly bad experiences or happenings in their lives can produce good things eventually.

God’s love for each child is so wonderful. I can’t recommend ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books enough not because God enabled me to write the 8 books but because the series builds a platform about God’s perfect and many sided character – hence the diamond!

At a Glance!

What do you see when you glance at the Bible? A dusty book, something that is irrelevant or an exciting adventure story? All can be true but it is only when we get to know the Author of this amazing book that we realise that it is a love letter sent from Heaven to Earth.

In fact, the Bible is the most read book on earth as more copies have been sold of this book through the generations than any other book ever.

Words matter to God. In the book of Genesis – a book of beginnings – it says that at God’s word the earth and all that is in it was created. God spoke and the light came; God spoke and the land, sky and sea came; God spoke and the plants and lights came; God spoke and the sea creatures came; God spoke and the birds came; God spoke and then the animals came; God spoke and then the first two people came.

“In the beginning,” says the Bible in John 1:1 ” was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” – Wow! I take that to mean that Jesus (which is who John’s gospel is all about) was with God (Father God) at the beginning of time together with the Holy Spirit who breathed over the waters that covered all the earth initially.

So, words are incredibly powerful. What we say (as we are made in our creator’s image) can have a powerful effect, too. God has given to mankind the authority to stand against any opposition that is wrong or not good so we can be confident to speak out what is true and lovely and noble and pure and praiseworthy and see things happen as a result. I’ve found this when, for example, I feel the onset of the common cold. I simply refuse it and say ‘no’ to it and I don’t receive it. How our NHS  systems  would  benefit from more of God’s input.

We can instruct our children to watch and be careful what they say, especially about themselves, as negative words can cause a curse to be put on our lives easily. What we speak is what we become. That is why ‘The Creation Series’ (and I can’t plug it enough for the blessing of children) is so useful and helpful as the visual that goes with God’s words can be seen and can be implanted on the memory. As we all know, the visual is so important especially to children. Sharon Rentta, the illustrator for this series, has such a gift of capturing a child’s imagination and the beauty of her drawings are quite something (see www.diamondbooks.org.uk).

So next time you take a glance at a Bible – maybe in a church or in a library or simply on a shelf at home, treat it like a treasure. Take it, open it, read the wealth within it and allow the Holy Spirit to show you what it all means for you for each day. The God of its pages can encourage you and help you as you read it everyday of your life. I can vouch for this great value and truth!

Drenching!

Rain can give us this but the Spirit of God can give us living water that comes from God’s heart.  Trust that even though it has been the wettest February on record (I think I heard) if we had received the equivalent from the Holy Spirit I guess this would have been so much better for us and for others.

Met a Christian recently who just oozes the Lord and it was a privilege to pray with her.  I also gained a greater hunger for more of God’s Spirit as it is only in him that we can live the Christian life at all.  We so easily do things in our own strength only to find that what we do is ineffective.

More time with God means more of him and less of me and hopefully a greater blessing on everyone I meet as well as Father God being glorified. John the Baptist said that he wanted to decrease so that God could increase – oh for the reality of that for every day.

Am being blessed with Mrs. Charles Cowman’s “Streams in the Desert” (Volume 2). Although an old book, there are so many treasures within it that speak of hardship and difficulty and challenges.  However, these produce life changing patterns if we yield to his way rather than struggle against the flow of abiding in God to get through the circumstances rather than trying to avoid them. The drenching can begin here.

Let’s allow God to have his way so that we can be drenched by God’s Spirit continually.  Jesus spoke of the Spirit’s life giving water which we can receive if we are thirsty. The woman at the well realised that this was true as she had tried life in her own way and had multiple relationships that did not satisfy her. Then when she met Jesus and he opened her eyes to see that all her needs could be met by this life giving water, she just couldn’t stop speaking about him.

Let’s keep focused and talk with our children at every opportunity about the reality of God and his life changing Spirit through knowing Jesus Christ.  They will become so changed as they get anchored into God’s word that their excitement at being a Christian will develop and be contagious.

‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books shows what happened when God spoke and the Spirit of God breathed life into our world in all its different forms. Thank God that when Jesus Christ later came to our world and then left it again he left us his Spirit so that his work could be completed. Now, every tribe and tongue and nation can be aware of the power of God as they see God’s creation and all the children, too, can realise what life is about – to enjoy God forever, flowing in his drenching Spirit.

Being Quiet

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

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

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

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

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