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The Reason Children Sing

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

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

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

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

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!

Creation is Staggering!

Whether it’s the brilliance of a sunset or the antics of tiny ants, God’s creation is staggering. The sheer volume of the beauty, variety, shapes and sizes of it all shows the sheer extravagance of the Creator who amazingly links himself personally with us.  The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image – how amazing is that!

Children often are in awe of what they find around them in creation and we, as adults, can encourage them to discover the intricate details of even a simple leaf let alone the transformations experienced by a butterfly egg and its subsequent developments.  Who would have thought that a wriggly caterpillar could change into an ugly chrysalis and then become a splendid butterfly.  Only God could have thought of making that!

Even in dryer countries where the luscious grass seems rare, the little creatures that burrow even amongst the sand are so resourceful.  Even cacti and trees in these regions somehow have a means of getting water. The big tap roots of some plants can access what they need.

God wants children to know his greatness and majesty just by seeing the creation he has made around them. Sometimes, we, as adults, can complicate their thinking and muddle their simple faith of God making everything. ‘The Creation Series’ of Diamond Books seeks to present creation just as it is and acknowledges who made it. Let’s keep feeding our children with the living bread of God’s word that says that God spoke and he made light, and then  the sky, land and sea, then the plants and lights in the heavens and the sea creatures, the birds and animals and finally his highest creation, mankind (Genesis 1-2). Let’s marvel in awe at what God has done but more importantly at who he is!

My Secret

“Do you have a secret? Do you promise not to tell?” goes the old Searchers song.  I have a secret that I want everyone to know – Jesus Christ is really alive and can change the heart of every person on this planet.  Somehow, it doesn’t make the world news, yet knowing him is the secret to success, health, joy, contentment, the future and more besides.

It is only by revelation that we get to understand what the Bible is all about.  This book is inspired from beginning to end and although it is old and long and historical, its pages can develop and help us human beings like no other book can.  The Holy Spirit is the interpreter of it. We only have to ask him to show us what it means as we read and the way will unfold for us to live life to the full, free of guilt and shame and free from anxieties as we trust our maker and redeemer.

I am thrilled to be able to supply 3-4 year olds in particular with the story of the early beginnings of creation and the wonder of  the magnificent flowers and birds and animals and people God has created. Sharon Rentta our artist for these books has captured the heart of God in the work she has done.  Take a look and have a read and bless the children around you.  They will never forget what they see and the words and illustrations could make a big impact upon their little lives.

We can encourage children to have secrets about the things they find out about creation e.g. a pair of swans stay together for their lifetime; or a mummy penguin usually lays a huge egg; or the beautiful coral reef off Australia is so big that it can be seen from the moon! Information that can seem secretive can be found out by children in the adventure of life that they are on.  What child is not fascinated by the ants they see and yet the secret about them is that they are such busy creatures and can teach us humans how to redeem our time and prepare ahead!

So with us adults – let’s not keep the ‘secret’ of Christ to ourselves but flood the world with the truth of the good news that says that all can have a place in heaven, all are loved and can be forgiven if only they ask their maker to do so. No-one is barred – now that is the best kept secret of all!

Good Friday

When I was a teenager, I wondered why ‘Good’ Friday was good when a 33 year old in the prime of his life was crucified outside Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. Then, when I was 17 years old, I discovered why.

The ugliness of human sin had to be dealt with. My sin needed to be erased. The only way that God could do this for mankind was to send his only son, Jesus Christ, to die instead of us (including me). The Bible clearly states that the penalty of sin is death, physical as well as emotional and spiritual death and there is no way we could get out of this penalty that was placed upon us when our first forefather, Adam, sinned. However, God has plans far superior than ours and God found the only way to save mankind quite literally.

We can’t work hard to erase our sin; we can’t even do our best; we can’t do enough penance to earn the title of ‘perfect’ that God wants of us. The only way we as humans can be ‘perfect’ and right with God is for God to forgive us and erase our sin completely.  Then he sees us as righteous and acceptable to him. It is a wonder indeed and makes ‘Good’ Friday meaningful and true. Jesus’ blood covers our sin.

It was a gory day that first ‘Good’ Friday but Jesus Christ didn’t flinch from the mission his Father had called him to do. Our children need to know this, too, which is why we have mentioned the answer to human sin in ‘The Creation Series’ to provide a bedrock of truth that children will never forget.

Let’s bow down this Friday and worship the God who cared so much for us to even die for us. Yet, he’s not still in the grave as we have the miracle of Easter Day that brings hope to every individual on the planet. As our children may be involved in Easter egg hunts, let’s remind them of the ‘egg shaped’ huge stone that was laid across Jesus’ tomb that got moved by the power of God. The miracle of Easter is just around the corner and it can be grasped by all who recognise and are humble enough to realise their need of a saviour.

Born to Die

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lordship

When life does not make sense, Jesus is Lord!  When everything seems to go wrong, Jesus is Lord! When our best plans go pear-shaped, Jesus is Lord! When my body hurts, Jesus is Lord! When I’m misunderstood, Jesus is Lord! When everything seems so right, Jesus is Lord!

I’m amazed at how personal God is.  He not only created the universe but he also sent Jesus in the form of a tiny embryo that grew into a foetus and was born a man.  His mission was to die for our world’s sin (and of course my sin). He also has such immense qualities at listening to his human creation now and answering simple prayers.

Diamond Books has been birthed in prayer which is why it is developing now.  It has taken a long, long time to get this far but then Abraham and Moses and Paul and all the Biblical characters had to wait a long time for their paths to unfold.  I am finding that God is not in a hurry. When Jesus walked this earth did he ever race to help his disciples or panic his way through difficulties?  He simply entrusted each day to his Father God and let the day happen.

I am convinced as I go on in the Christian life that busyness is the number one problem amongst God’s people certainly in the UK and perhaps elsewhere too.  If we can stop and begin to listen to him more then we will find our lives enriched, fruitful and certainly a blessing and help to many. Abiding, I think, is the key so that he does his work in us.  Our trying and striving does not produce the same thing!

Let’s let God have his way this Christmas season so that even if half the things we intended to do don’t get done, he can prove his Lordship in our lives. Then he can be glorified in us with no fuss or self aggrandisement while we quietly and simply trust like Mary did.

Celebrating the Best

There is so much to be thankful for. Our very lives are precious and those of our children incredibly valuable.  That is why what we feed children (physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, emotionally) is so important and strategic to what they will become.

Diamond Books is about the whole child experiencing as much of God’s beauty and security and love and care and character as possible in their young reading years. Then they can choose to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives and see how he makes a difference to everyday decisions, choices and their relationships with others. They can learn to be thankful for everything as all that we have has been given to us by God.

Just looking at creation is awesome in itself.  The detail, order, loveliness and colour points us to an amazing Creator who decided to make everything he created unique – even the grains of sand, the snowflakes and of course us human beings. I am always staggered that we ‘work’ as well as we do seeing as our bodies are so complex, our brains alone being far superior to any computer ever invented.

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you’ seems such a small phrase to say to our Creator God and yet he loves our praises, thanks, adoration and worship.  When children grasp these habits their lives can take off in song or in poetry or even writing stories, as well as in all manner of creativity. Seeing as Jesus Christ is called the word of God (see John 1) it is not surprising that we can easily be like him. Our creativity is a gift from God who inspires his human creation to be just like him – a mirror of his wonderful person. Let’s model ‘thankfulness’ to our children so they can become more appreciative and not take for granted the many blessings we all receive daily.  (Am aware that our varying lives don’t always seem that blessed e.g. for our brothers and sisters in Syria at this time but even they can find something to be thankful for by God’s grace.)