Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Christian Family Resources - Part 11 - Trailblazers Series

Over the last few years, I have come across some great resources for families, churches, small 
groups, mentoring, or self-study.  

I would like to introduce you to Trailblazers Series

My boys love this series.  These books feature a specific time in a Christians hero's life through the eyes of a young fictional protagonist. The books clearly identify what is fiction and what characters and events are historical facts. For those keen to go further the website provides a link to a curriculum guide to go along with some of the books.

Christian Hero's include;
Hudson Taylor
Martin Luther
David Livingston
Mary Slessor
John Bunyan
Harriet Tubman
Romulo Saune
Amy Carmichael
David Zeisberger
Samuel Morris
And many more

I highly recommend this series.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Christian Family Resources - Part 10 - Viking Quest Series

Over the last few years, I have come across some great resources for families, churches, small 
groups, mentoring, or self-study.  

I would like to introduce you to Viking Quest Series

This series consists of 5 books that follow the journey of a girl who discovers what it means to have faith that is powerful enough to remove hate, and calm storms.  This is a very well written series that gives great understanding to personal struggles within a detailed historical context. It is easy to read and often has readers eager for the next chapter.  

We have a veracious reader in our family, as a mother I am very careful as to what my children read.  I found this series incredibly refreshing and inspiring.  I only wish there were more series like this available.

I highly recommend this series.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Look and Love - Mark 10:17-31

I was reading Mark 10:17-31 the other day, and I have to admit this passage, upon a glance, looks pretty bleak. Maybe that is my interpretation based on living in a western society. I did noticed a couple of heavenly inspiring portions, one I had not ever noticed before.

Just to recap in case you haven't the time to read this passage right now; Mark 10:17-31 is the story of the rich young man who is asking how he can inherit eternal life. You may know the story well.

Okay my first and recent epiphany: Have you noticed this brief and powerful statement in verse 10; “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”  Jesus told him what was needed for him to enter eternal life, but first, he looked at him and then he loved him.  I find this so tender and precious. Even in the hardest truth, Jesus see's and loves. Even when we have giant self-made mountains to climb, Jesus see's and loves. Even when we hold tightly to what holds us back, Jesus see's and loves us. 

I only hope and pray that when we share Jesus with people, that we start where he did, that we may look at them and love them.  Tony Saxon, a New Zealand speaker said that in this post-modern world, people don't need relevant - the world does relevant all the time. What the world needs is real. The world needs the church to be real. To look at them and love them.

Second point that grabbed me: A little further on in verse 26 the disciples ask Jesus “Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God."

This is one of those points that I have to keep reminding myself.  The Holy Spirit convicts. Convicting is not my job. My job is to share.  "With man it is impossible." "For all things are possible with God."

That is a relief.  It's not my job to save souls.  
We are called to open our mouths and be real, see people and love them. 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Praying against the 'as it is'

I was listening to a Tim Keller sermon last week and I had to write this down this pinpoint quote;
"Prayer is rebelling against the status quo." Tim Keller
This sparked a fuse within me, 'what am I rebelling against?'
Illness in my family - healing
My doubt - faith
Justifying my sinfulness - sanctification
Change not coming when I want it - trust

I do not want these things to remain as they are, I want change, I want movement, I want more.
What status quo are you rebelling against?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Winter Holidays

Staying in PJ's until the last minute. Over-looking the laundry, until it's essential. Tidying only when the floor can't be walked on. Afternoon movies with bowls of popcorn. Books, books and more books, plus library visits. Warm house, hot Milo's.  Cuddles on the couch.

I love winter holidays.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Repentance, Self-condemnation and Sunshine

Saturday afternoon I had somehow managed to find myself alone at home. This is unbelievably precious time for a homeschooling mother. So I savour it and make a cup of tea.

I decide to get into a Bible study I had started 4 months ago and had only done a handful of times.  In God's timing and way, the study was on repentance. Again! This is the third time this week I have been reading different material and come across repentance.  Coincidence?  Nah, no such thing in my book.

After the study I took the time and space to practise what Beth Moore calls 'getting down on our face', inhaling carpet fluff before the King. I find this posture humbling, even writing about it is somewhat humiliating. I'd like to omit this part, but it's good for me to humble myself.  I find I only get super honest with God when I am in a humble posture.  So there I was repenting of my selfishness and naturally I move into praise.  Then I think about my unworthiness, I feel so unworthy to worship God.  I feel ashamed to call on His name. I know my heart is full to over flowing with hypocrisy. I felt unfit to cry out to the Creator.

The sun was shining down on me as I lay on the floor, it could have been beautiful. The house was in peace, yet my heart wasn't, I was disgusted in myself. I kept thinking of Christ's humiliation on the cross, I was there, my sin was present upon Him. His blood dripped down and mingled with my filthy sin.

Suddenly I realised, (thank you sweet Spirit) that not only had he taken the punishment for me, He gave me His record.  My praise is worthy because Christ has made it just that, worthy, that is the only reason.

The next song on the playlist followed, I roll over onto my back and soak in the warmth and red sunlight through my closed eyes.  I place my hands over my closed eyes as the song sings;
I am chosen, I am free
I am Living for eternity
Free now forever
You picked me up, turned me around
You set my feet on solid ground
Yours now forever
And nothing’s gonna hold me back
Nothing’s gonna hold me back
Nothing’s gonna hold me back
The blackness of covered eyes are a stark difference to the brightness as I raise my hands in worship when I hear;
My chains fell off
My heart was free
I’m alive to live for you
I’m alive to live for you
Amazing Love, how can it be?
You give everything for me
You give everything for me
Amazing love. Amazing. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."And then on a bit in verse 21 "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

It actually said that ... In Him we might become the righteousness of God.
You washed my sin and shame away
The slate is clean; a brand new day
Free now forever
Now boldly I approach your throne
To claim this crown through Christ my own
Yours now forever
And nothing’s gonna hold me back
Nothing’s gonna hold me back
Nothing’s gonna hold me back
I hold myself back. I listen to the voice of selfish pride - self-condemnation is pride. Elise Fitzpatric says "When I come to him in meekness and dependence, I'll learn the difference between proud self-condemnation (which is all about me) and humble conviction of sin (which is all about him, his grace, and his law)." The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts, and empowers us to accept the pardon for our sin.  When we repent we clean the space of our hearts for the Holy Spirit to fill more.
My chains fell off
My heart was free
I’m alive to live for you
I’m alive to live for you
Amazing Love, how can it be?
You give everything for me
You give everything for me
I’m free to live
Free to give
Free to be
I’m free to love you
I am free to live, free to give, free to be, I'm free to love Him.  It's free for me, because He paid the price.  It wasn't cheap, wasn't a bargain, it was costly. For me, for you!

"I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2)

Repent - turn away from selfishness and turn to Him who loves you so much He took your consequences and punishment for your sin. Humble yourselves and believe in the one who LOVES you and desires your heart to be saved. Precious repentance, precious victory in Christ Jesus.

Lyrics: Nothings Gonna Hold Me Back, Jesus Culture.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rooibus Tea and Technology

I enjoy Redbush Tea.  
You can take it so many different ways, this suits me, as I often feel in the mood for something different - change.  
I always have a stock of many flavoured herbal teas - choice. 
Perhaps too many, as some days I just can't choose - extravagance. 
But I like to think I have a herbal tea for any friend in any mood - love and community. 

I'm a New Zealander, who was introduced to the South African tea Rooibos (redbush) by a English lady. Quirky and somewhat everyday evidence that we live in a global community.

When I was 21 I went to the USA for a short stint. I'd been abroad before, but for those of us who live in New Zealand, Australia doesn't really count as they are culturally so close. While in America I met folks from all over the world, Australia, England, Ghana, Russia, South Africa, Scotland and obviously America.  Back in those days (old persons phrase), the only way I was able to keep in touch after we parted ways was hand written letters. At that point in time the Internet was only in it's early stages and not everyone had an email address. Now, the world looks very different. The world has grown closer in communication, yet further away in community.  

I wonder, are we so connected to the world that we fail to connect with those in the same room as us.

"I Fear the Day That Technology Will Surpass Our Human Interaction" (Albert Einstein)

Get Back: Writer / Director / Editor: Eliot Rausch
Production Company: RauschFilms

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Busy Lives

Before I got a smart phone my friends teased me for carrying an A5 diary in my handbag, which I often referred to as my 'brain'. In our home we also use an online calendar and both our boys know how to access it and as you would expect they like to have a nosy most days. In this digital age our schedule is not just accessible on our computer but also our phones. That sounds a lot like over-kill to me!!

We schedule things because we are busy (make that forgetful).  I don't remember life being so busy when I was a child. My folks worked hard, time off was rare and they didn't schedule in a ton of socialising or activities.  As children, we didn't do a myriad of sports or hobbies. There was no real need for a schedule.

Not so in my parenting experience. Since we started homeschooling, my diary has been cleared during the morning hours every day.  I was looking forward to going all reclusive and taking life back to a simple state.  I was a tad overdone, weary of the running wheel I had unconsciously hopped on.  Unfortunately home schooling hasn't changed that. Sad to say my idealistic bubble was burst pretty quickly.  Our schedule is still really full most afternoons and that's not including the evenings or weekends. What’s with that?

Busyness.  It's a mysterious thing. I think you can assume your life is too busy when someone asks you how your week has been and you think "My week... what did I do?  I can't remember. It was all a blur." I remember reading a story about how our enemy, the Devil, doesn't need to constantly throw temptation in our way, he just needs to keep us so busy we have no time for deep connection with Christ Jesus.  When we are too busy, we slip into 'trying' in our own strength and we become ineffective. We get by, don't get me wrong. Our own strength can be efficient. We can be highly functional but not faithfully effective.

Temperance is an old fashioned word, a forgotten philosophy in a western world hell-bent on more, bigger, better and faster. Temperance means moderation in action, thought or feeling.  Sadly it doesn't describe my life.  Do we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves about our schedule?  Parents, we are some of the worst at this. What if we don't take our kids to ballet?  Are we a bad parent? Will they be missing out? Not to mention art, football, rugby, scouts, piano, Spanish, swimming, hip-hop, basket ball, cricket and believe me I could keep going on and on about all the out of school activities kids are encourage to participate in. We as parents should be the moderators in the midst of all the busyness, teaching our children temperance instead. Yet so often we feed the busy and shamefully admit we have no idea how to live a lifestyle of moderation.  

As adults we fill our own schedules with work, socialising, sports and more work. Sometimes it’s with good stuff, often even with church stuff. We crowd our minds and time with 'what's next'. Do you think that we cram our schedules full because we somehow feel important when we are busy?  Maybe that’s true of you or maybe we cram our days and minds full so we don't have time to think on how disconnected we are, how unloved we feel, how unhappy we feel or how discontented we are?  

In some respects we should be discontented.  We should desire more...  but we shouldn't go looking to work, people, activities, programs or possession to fill this desire.  It’s in the ‘stopping’ that we find the real answer. Our “holy discontent” moves us to find our true satisfaction in God alone as we desire more of Him who is perfect in every way.

It can be scary to stop, because in so doing we will possibly disappoint people.  What if we do stop and yet we still find it difficult to hear the voice of God? What if all we are left with is silence?  Break the silence with prayer. Pray for more of God. Luke 11:11-13 talks about a father giving his child good gifts. Verse 13 says “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  I love that exclamation mark.  Think on that for a moment. God loves to give us good gifts, the Holy Spirit included - to those who ask him. Ask away then!!! What better gift is there than the presence of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit can use the silence and space to move you.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit want you to be connected to them. When we draw close to God we will be given an eternal perspective that will give us urgency for reality and simplicity in life.  

I'm not suggesting you throw your diary away, I certainly won't be. I'd be lost without mine but at least let us be deliberate. Let us set aside time not to be busy. Ask God to teach you temperance and moderation.  Ask God to give you the greatest gift, more of Himself. Draw your desires from the one who can meet all your needs and satisfy your heart. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Christian Family Resources - Part 9 - Praise Baby Collection

Over the last few years, I have come across some great resources for families, churches, small 
groups, mentoring, or self-study.  

I want to introduce you to Praise Baby DVD

When my boys grew out of watching this DVD I happily past it on to a friend with younger children.  When our boys were younger they loved it. I can remember our youngest at 6 months (I know too young for screen time, but I had to get dinner cooked somehow), enjoying the simple pictures of children, animals and shapes on screen, accompanied by worship music.  

To be honest I found so much children's worship hard to stomach, I'm not terribly tolerant of cheesey children's music, but this DVD has beautifully sung worship that is peaceful not irritating. This was a great way to full the house with worship, and fill their hearts with truth - even at a young age.

Highly Recommended