A Showcase for ACWF Members and Their Work
(Most of These Essays Are Responses to Set Monthly Assignments)
I RememberI remember Sunday School picnics
Held in all kinds of weather,
Rides on double-deck buses
With families and friends all together;
A Saturday overflowing
With games and races and fun,
And the wonderful grand finale
Was that delicious cream bun.
I remember the anniversaries
And a new dress every spring,
The way the whole stage was set up,
The songs that we learnt to sing;
One time our invited speaker
Came from the U.S. of A.
He gave an American dollar,
A token I’ve kept to this day.
I remember Christian Endeavour
That ended all too soon,
A fun way to get together
On a Sunday afternoon;
A time of singing and praying
And learning about God’s word,
We memorised many verses
And Bible stories were heard.
I remember each Friday evening
We went off to Girls’ Brigade,
Many life skills were taught us
And plenty of craftwork was made;
I recall one time we were taken
To see an extraordinary scene
When the Opera House was opened
By none other than the Queen.
I remember the time of my baptism
When people all gathered to see,
To join in a special moment
That meant so much to me;
The steps taken into the water
When, dressed completely in white,
I confessed my faith in the Saviour
On a cold September night.
I remember many good people
Who guided me on my way,
Who taught me the truths of the Bible
And led me for many a day;
Some of them still here among us,
Some have had to depart,
But each of them has a place here
Safe in the depths of my heart.
My Favourite Proverb
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10.
How awesome is this simple short proverb and what great depths this uncomplicated message plumbs. The fear of the Lord– the beginning of the realisation of the greatness of our God and His absolute omnipotence, power, authority, might– we see evidence of Him whenever and wherever we look. Who dares to defy such holiness and greatness? We can only submit in humble obedience to Him.
And yet, with all that unquestioned power, might and purity, we find love and compassion. How can He, with his knowledge and wisdom, love and care for us? Truly that is the one foolish characteristic of God. With such love reaching down towards us we must truly love Him in return, for we, poor destitute souls, have nowhere else to go.
How can we gain knowledge of “The Holy One”? Again, the Lord of Hosts has shown in His Word (The Bible) the path for us to tread. With the Holy Spirit (another gift from the Lord) to guide and encourage us, we read the Bible on a daily basis and we converse with Him in prayer.
The Holy Spirit will now lead us to do works for our great God and give us opportunities to speak to others of the hope and joy we and they also, can have in this miserable environment that sin has created.
As Peter said to Jesus in John 6:68,“Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”
© Beverly Tyson
When The Wind Blows
When the wind of devastation blows into our lives, we seem lost. But those who have Jesus as a Saviour are given the strength and love to overcome despair.
We may look at what is happening and wonder, why? But when we have Jesus as our friend, we know that goodness will prevail. We know that we will come out of this disaster with new knowledge and assurance that ail will be well.
When we place our hands into the hand of God, we receive the blessings from Him. We know that nothing can touch or destroy us. We may look at destruction and disaster about us, but we have in our hearts the blessed assurance that we belong to a higher force. The greater wind that we have within our lives is the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us and helping us through this time of pain and terror. We have the inner peace that nothing can take away. During that time we may find it difficult to see this. But Jesus has promised , 'I am with you. 1 will never leave you'. And He never will.
These words of an old chorus reach and comfort me: 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the Light of His Glory and grace.'
HOW I SURVIVED
I was eleven years old and on my way home from school when a big teenage boy on the opposite side of the road started shouting wildly at me. A narrow laneway near me led down the steep hill from Petersham to Marrickville, where I lived. My skinny legs took wings as I practically flew down the hill. I could hear the boy running behind me, shouting as he ran. PING! He threw a knife at me and it went into my school-case.
“Now be won’t give up following me because he’ll want his knife back,” I thought so tugging the dagger out as I ran, I tossed it over a backyard fence as I passed. The ploy worked. He had stopped to climb over the fence to get his knife back. The shouting behind me died away. I kept my pace up until I reached home. I was safe at last.
Who was looking after me that day? I believe that possibly it was the angel appointed to watch over Jo Brennan who saved me from harm.
The Holy Spirit’s definition of angels in the Bible through the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews in Chapter 1 and verse 14, says this: “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
Were there other occasions in my life when I survived because god’s hand kept me safe?
I believe there were.
For instance when I was twelve, I took my bike to the bike-shop man to mend the puncture. There was no-one else in the shop.
“Come into the back room and watch me mend your puncture," he said.
Without hesitation I followed him and when he had finished mending the tyre, he put his arms around me and drew me close, kissing me on the mouth. Thankful that he let me go, as soon as I got outside I spat and spat on the ground.
I did not tell my mother, but a few weeks later when I was ill in bed, knowing my address he came to visit me and sitting beside my bed, he put his hand under the bedclothes and massaged my lower abdomen.
This time I did tell my mother. “Please don’t let that man visit me again!”
She asked me why, and I told her.
How this time did God enable me to escape from danger? I got worse and had to go to hospital and as I got no better my mother took me to her family in the Hunter River District, and from there to Dr. Tom Street in Cessnock who put me into Cessnock District Hospital and took my appendix out.
Well again, I did not return to Sydney as from their mini-submarine the Japanese shelled Sydney and we stayed a whole year at Pokolbin seven miles from Cessnock.
When we did return to Sydney it was to a different address where that man could never find me. So when a wicked man desired to have me, in God’s own way he spirited me away.
Time went on, and when I was twenty-seven years old I came to understand for the first time in my life that we cannot climb up to heaven on a ladder of our own good deeds but through believing in Jesus the Son of God we receive the Gift from God of Salvation.
Once I accepted that I was saved through grace, the gift of God through Jesus Christ dying for my sins on the cross, God led me, now a fully qualified nurse to go to Tanzania in Africa, to serve the Lord who gave his life for me. There I had many adventures, God saving me from more dangers, and bringing me home eventually to look back on all the way my Saviour led me and he still does.
(Jo’s autobiography can be ordered through www.koorong Books in Australia and www.amazon Books in USA, “THE HEAVENS DECLARE” by Jo D Brennan)
The Importance of Practical Christianity
It has been said that faith without works is dead. Is it possible to profess to being a Christian without showing other people by your actions and lifestyle that you believe in the teachings of the Bible and are following its path? Can you be true Christian and sit on your hands when there is a need to help someone? To ignore the cries of the world and even our neighbor because we feel inadequate or unconcerned. Can we say “It’s not my problem” when we have an obligation to God to put our beliefs and our faith to work according to our ability, physically or financially. When we say we are Christians people are watching us.
Christians are not the only people who practice Christianity. So many “good” people live by the ten Commandments It’s just that they don’t acknowledge the author of their sympathetic words, or the encouragement they give to someone who is "giving their all" to their studies, or sport, or building or creating a project. Lots of “good” people share love and generosity without knowing the source. Is it our obligation to translate their goodness into Godness? Can we do that by our actions alone or must we speak out? Being a “good” person is human nature at its best, but being a doer of practical Christianity is better.
Only this week I was talking to one of the residents of the complex where we live. We were discussing our childhood. She told me her father was a lovely man. He didn’t go to church, but he was always wise and generous with the family. “That’s all you need,” she said. “Someone to look after you and be kind and generous. A good role model.” But my inner self said, “It isn’t all you need.” This nice lady had been through so many trials and problems. I told her I was born into a church family and my days were filled with church and Sunday School, with great church friends and activities. Happy days. Even as little children we learned to recognize other people’s needs and help when we could. In those years we were given the tools for practical Christianity and somewhere to go when our heart was broken. The conversation was light and I was reluctant, “chicken” maybe, to launch into a message that didn’t seem to her to have any relevance to her type of childhood. To say to her, “Yes, but did he teach you about giving yourself to God so that God could use you for His kingdom? Did you take your children to Sunday School when they were young to learn about the right path to walk and recognize it?” Should I have said something?
For women, practical Christianity is often domestic and easy because it entails helping another woman through a difficult time, cooking casseroles, taking their children to school, keeping an eye on them, listening to them when they needed a shoulder to cry on. For men it is more manual assistance, but important for men who need to talk about their problems. When they share their interests and their ability practical Christianity is the key to filling a need. That’s why when we read about missionaries and authors who follow a calling or write about a vision it is practical Christianity to the core. It is important that we fill the need prayerfully and financially for them to do the practical work on our behalf. And again, people are watching you. Practical Christianity is not only important it is essential.
Here is one of my favourite little verses. It comes to me
so often, and I love it:
Not only in the words you say, not only in your deeds confessed,
but in the most unconscious way is Christ expressed.
Is it a beatific smile? A holy light upon your brow?
Ah no, I felt His presence when you laughed just now.
And from your eyes He beckons me, and from your heart His love is shed,
till I lose sight of you and see the Christ instead.
An Unexpected Encounter
When we think of an encounter we usually think of a physical meeting of people whom we unexpectedly meet and stop for a chat. They may give you a message or some information to pass on to someone else. We may think their “brush with fame” when they have met a well known person or a celebrity. I have met a few people like that.
They always tell you the story with a sense of importance and a buzz of excitement. It always makes a good story. Alan and I were on a day trip on a catamaran which took us from Port Douglas to the Low Isles in Queensland.
A large group of people in their thirties and forties with three young children were on board. The man had bright red hair, the women were attractive and trendy and chatted amongst themselves. The children all had red hair. They were a little precocious when they talked to the adults and demanded attention. I recognised the man immediately. In my age group many people would be familiar with Ron Howard, one of the main characters of the T.V. series “Happy Days”. It was a healthy family sit com with lots of laughs. Alan and I found a seat on the deck and I said “Hello” as we passed. I was quite intrigued and sat watching and listening to them. I was wondering how the family of celebrities behaved. Of course, they weren’t ordinary people. Each child had a nanny to look after them, and it was obvious that some of the group had someone to attend to them for lunch and when we reached the resort. The children splashed and played just like other children.
That was my unexpected encounter. I didn’t actually gain any information on how “the other half” live except to perhaps have a sense of relief these people with all their resources and privileges behaved like a very normal family. That Ron Howard could step out of the artificial world of TV and share his leisure time with his family and friends and mix with the other passengers just like us.
My thoughts went back to the hundreds of unexpected encounters written about Jesus in the Bible and how Jesus met and talked with some many different types of people regardless of their race and whether they were poor or rich. He was prepared to heal them if they wished to be healed. He wouldn’t have know them or they Him but He was prepared to bring them healing and knowledge so that their lives could be blessed. Imagine how they felt. They had come to see Him, many out of curiosity, many out of scepticism. He wasn’t known as a celebrity. He is usually not described as a famous man, but as His teaching and word of His healing and miracles went before Him many people would have been waiting for His arrival with great expectations. Jesus healed people wherever He went. He spoke with humility. Many would have suffered for a long time in desperation not knowing that a healer and teacher was coming to their town or city. They wouldn’t have expected that when this man came to town and they all assembled on the river bank He used a boat so that they could all hear Him and spoke to them in parables so that they would understand. It would have indeed been an unexpected encounter for most of them. They wouldn’t have been prepared for what was going to happen. That they would take into their spirits all the beatitudes and witness the miracles and learn from the parables.
I imagine one of the greatest unexpected encounters Jesus made was when He called simple, working men to be His disciples. The fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James son of Zebedee, John, Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew a tax collector, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.
They wouldn’t have been prepared for everything which was to happen along the way in His ministry, and certainly so many people wouldn’t have foreseen what was going to happen to them. That’s where faith comes in. One day we will have an encounter with Jesus, we know that it will be, but of course we don’t know when. We can prepare by prayer and knowledge and we are told it will be an amazing encounter.
John 18: 2-11
They came to take him from this fearful place
He watched them come and saw ‘betrayals’ face.
He heard the words, “This is the man you seek.”
He felt the kiss and turned the other cheek.
And Peter with the others of his band
Confused, defending, angry, sword in hand
Struck out and cut the temple servant’s ear.
For this is how man deals with hate and fear.
But Jesus tells us, “Put the sword away.”
Remember why I came and what I say.
I came to heal and love, and to forgive.
And retribution scars the way you live.
When you feel that injustice has been done,
When you are hurt, remember God’s own son
Bore all your pain. He’s given you a plan
To “sheath” the hate and love your fellow man.
Musings on Peace
We all long for peace in this troubled world, yet it seems so far off, brought home to us all by the images of desperate people wanting just a chance at peace. And then that most graphic picture of all: one lone little boy lying on a beach, stilled by the kiss of death. He could have been our child, our grandchild and he very definitely should not have been dead. He had not made any choices.
The pressure is on us and on our governments to give these people an opportunity to escape the violence of their own homelands – but there are so many? How? Can countries already stretched financially provide for more?
I believe that we can unite together within the United Nations and demand that all countries offer some of their unused land and islands for development and settlement by following Israel’s lead. Remember, returning Jews took a tiny scrap of land that Mark Twain had written off completely and made of it the fertile country it is today. Could not we do the same?
But, you will tell me, the refugees only want to go to the cities.
The word ‘want’ is out of the equation if the formula is to work. We all have to work together, make compromises and be enriched together.
However, we are talking about peace. There are dreadful wars going on in the Middle East. We know that most refugees would never have left their countries but for the wars.
I have just finished reading an excellent book called “Unveiling Islam” by Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner, two Lebanese professors and brothers, and converts to Christianity. It explains that the Moslem’s greatest assurance of salvation is to kill an infidel ie a Jew or Christian, even though another section of the Koran tells Moslems to respect the ‘people of the Book.’ However, the Moslem does see that none of us lives up to the standard of ‘the Book’. Therefore, in his eyes we have dishonoured ‘the Book’ and have lost any right of protection.
How can we explain to the fanatical Moslem that he has no right to judge his fellow man? We can only try to break barriers down with love and friendship, to try and free the Moslem so that he is able to question what he is taught. And people like me must pray.
The ultimate peace is found in when we submit our lives to Christ, our Saviour and Lord. We who have accepted Him as our personal Saviour must give from our hearts to all those in need.
The Tree of Life
When we read of the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden we are amazed at their naivety. They were so innocent, almost like children, having no knowledge of what could be lurking around the next corner. Without a care in the world they played together with the animals and birds in idyllic and lush surroundings, helping themselves to the fruits temptingly hanging on the trees and vines. Delicate perfumes wafted tantalizingly on the air, a loving kiss blown to them by the flowers and blossoms adorning their surrounds. And in the cool of the evening their own beloved God would come and walk and talk with them, teaching them with wisdom. How they loved and adored Him, this great wise God of theirs. They only wished to please and obey Him.
Until that dreadful, fateful day when the serpent entered, shimmering brilliantly as he walked towards Eve. His dazzling sophistication totally beguiled Eve. Why couldn't she be like this magnificent creature? But of course dear Adam could not be left behind! And so they were tempted these two dear children of God, just like many still are today, dazzled by bright and garish lights. They ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Immediately they became aware of their nakedness and that all was not quite beautiful in the world. Desiring to appear modest, they sewed fig leaves together to make aprons for themselves. God's footsteps were heard in the garden, and instead of running out to greet Him, they hid themselves for fear of what they had done.
Well of course they couldn't hide themselves from God: He who is omnipotent, all seeing, all knowing. Reality had to be faced, not only by Adam and Eve, but by God Himself.
For now these children He had delighted in were capable of committing sinful, even evil acts. They had to be banished from that most wondrous of gardens- their home- into a world of harshness and hidden traps to fend for themselves. Why did God take this severe step? If they had stayed in the Garden of Eden they could have eaten of the Tree of Life and then Adam and Eve and their children would have lived in sin forever. There would have been no chance of a brighter future.
It was the darkest of hours; one not to be equalled until that day, three thousand years later, when a simple itinerant Rabbi would be betrayed and crucified on a rough wooden cross.
The Bible doesn't record an admission of sin or repentance by Adam and/or Eve. Had pride, the downfall of Satan, already entered their hearts? But Genesis 3:15 does refer to the virgin birth of the Messiah, the promise of salvation. Even then, right at the beginning and in the midst of such flagrant rebellion, God was still loving mankind and planning his restoration.
Sin became so great, that the whole world, excepting for the faithful and obedient Noah and his family was destroyed. Enoch walked with God and was not, the first man not to die. God simply took him to live with Him. Abraham chose to become a friend of God and obey God. God now brought into being a nation from Abraham and Sarah and nurtured it to grow into God's own people. From this people would spring forth God's message of salvation to all nations, until finally the Messiah was born and made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.
"It is a tree of Life to all who grasp it and whoever holds on to it is happy; its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace." Proverbs 3:17-18.
What is the author talking about here? This particular quotation is a quote from a Reform Judaic site promoting the study of the Torah. And certainly Chapter 3 does begin with: "My Son, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments." But as I study this chapter further, I find that from Verse 13 onwards it is referring to wisdom. Psalm 111:10 tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The study of the law is not enough; we must have it written on our hearts, guiding us in matters small and great; our whole life lived in communion with our God.
Salvation springing forth from a perfect man was needed, for the severance had been from Man. Christ Himself, One of the Godhead came in the form of a man and died in our place, His blood covering our sins. Through repentance of our sins and acceptance of Christ as our Saviour we know that our future will be as blissful as that experienced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Our loving Father has given us the opportunity to once again live with Him forever. In the meantime the wisdom we find between the covers of the Bible is a Tree of Life to us.
It is most important to make your characters in a story real to the reader. When I was at school we did several lessons on this as it related to the novels we were studying.
I was told by my English teacher it was a gift I had and she hoped that someday I may become a writer or Editor in that field.
Now, after many years after publishing many children/teenage books I have enjoyed doing this making my characters come alive as well as different to each other.
Try taking a piece from a novel and developing it into something different to what the writer has done in that book. It is most challenging and develops into a challenge which can become quite inviting to do.
I found L.M. Montgomery challenging to read as her characters stayed with me all of my life and I can still see them in my mind. Other writers have not had this gift and we as readers know what will come next.
Try taking a passage and share what you find in a chapter or even a page of that book and see what you can get out of it. It can be read out as homework at Saturday’s Seminar.
-Pat Rich17th April, 2O15
A Marvellous Moment
The birth of Jesus was a marvelous moment. How overwhelmed with joy Mary and Joseph must have been as they held their little miracle baby. Perhaps even more marvelous was when this same Lord rose from the dead after being crucified, making possible the forgiveness of sins and a way back to God. How excited the women must have been as "---two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening stood by the empty tomb. 'He is not here; He has risen' declared the angels." (Luke24:4-6)
In the life of the Lord Jesus there were many marvelous moments. These are recorded in the Gospels, God's good news for the world.
What a marvelous moment for the blind beggar as he praised God, having received his sight from Jesus.
And then there was the leper, begging Jesus to heal him. Jesus, reaching out his hand touched the man and said, "Be clean", and immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke5:12-13)
Jesus did His first miraculous sign when He turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana. It was a marvelous moment for Mary and for the servants as they saw His glory and put their faith in him. (John2:1 1)
It must have been an inexpressible moment for the woman who had been bent over for 18 years and was healed when Jesus put His hands on her. (John 13)
Jesus also spoke in parables. The son who squandered his inheritance returned home begging to be a servant " ...but while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him".
Many a person would relate to that story as they remember the marvelous moment when they came back to their heavenly father for forgiveness and were welcomed with open arms. (John 15 10)
In John 21:25 we read" Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written".
A True-Colours Gentleman.
I went to my Bible, because I believe what was stated there about special people who showed their true colours. I remembered specifically about a gentleman named Nehemiah.
This man, the son of Hacaliah, was in Susa, and was the server of wine to the king. Neherniah was a respected servant because he had to taste the wine in front the king before the king could drink it.
After he had received the news about Jerusalem from some of his friends Nehemiah spent much time praying, weeping and mourning for days. His earnest prayer to the Lord was that maybe the king would allow him, Nehemiah, to return to Judah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The folk who had escaped exile were anxious about the state of their run down city Jerusalem.
One particular day the king noticed that Nehemiah was sad, and asked him why. He replied that if the king was favourable, then he would allow Neherniah to return to Jerusalem. The decaying walls of Jerusalem were a disgrace to them, the Jews. Jerusalem was the place of his father's sepulcher. The run-down city would definitely be taken over by their enemies.
Maybe Nehemiah's knees were shaking as he told the king that he's been praying for some lengthy time about his proposed journey to Jerusalem. The king and his wife wanted to know details of Nehemiah's proposed journey, and finally arranged for letters of introduction to the governors of the countries Neherniah would be traversing through.
Nehemiah had two close friends with him, and after three days in Jerusalem, the three of them went on a night survey of the ruined city. Later he mentioned to them what the Lord had told him to do, and their answer was "Let us rise up and build "
Nehemiah told those who opposed the re-building plans that the God of heaven would make the builders prosper. This gifted man went ahead and organized the multitude of folk- many of whom resided outside the city walls. They possessed numerous gifts to help refurbish the walls and entry gates. Each worker carried a small sword by his side to fend off those who wanted to destroy the work that was being carried out. Nehemiah's knowledge was amazing as he virtually knew what gifts each worker had.
It almost goes beyond one's imagination to realise that the restoring and rebuilding of walls and gates of Jerusalem took only 57 days. Nehemiah did it.
I admire this man, Nehemiah, because he truly showed his true colours over issues that would have daunted folk such as me. He took it all to his caring God in prayer. It covered some time and definitely wasn't an overnight decision.
In my daily life I need to earnestly pray that my Saviour will definitely exhibit my true colours as a true follower of Him. I need to carry His care of me within my mind and soul every moment of every day.
These words are from Nehemiah chapter 9 verse 7 b. They were uttered by the Levites with Ezra as their leader. I also repeat them:-
"Stand up and bless the Lord your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be thy glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise."
-H. Joy HunterFebruary 2015.
The next day! Sunday Morn!Ecelesiastes 3:8. King James Version
I sit on my lounge dopy but peaceful but in deep awe of the simple things that God has set up for us to enjoy His splendour and Glory each day...
An orchestra of tinkling sounds of birds conducted in perfect timing as if conducted on high or individually rehearsed in perfect unison.
Small insects and fluffy butterflies dancing in and out of the roses. Sometimes resting on a fragile bouncing pink petal softly swaying in the still breeze.
Each tinkling bird like a bell or chime calling to each other in glee echoing through the light striped Forrest, Stripped softly with misty Zebra stripes that cut into the deep collage of leaves making up the undulating forest.
Dark in places but softly powdered and warmed by a mist of cloud shimmering in the sunlight.
Each leaf kissed by glistening globes of dew that resonate stars within each of the far stretching strands of light.
Spears of light failing to sharp blades from the far fading stairway to heaven to tutor us on Gods glory and creation but disappearing in the blinding light far reaching though soft and disappearing on high into the cloud of heavenly hosts.
The Heavens calling our hearts to join in the party, His daily welcome calling us to audience this gentle orchestra sweeping through our hearts now lifted into great thanks!
His ecclesiastical salutation draws us close to His heart beating over us daily in warm and kind protection Morning Jesus! Thank you for the welcome!
-Megan Cooper15th November 2004
Love thy Neighbour
"And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
It is easy to love "the Lord thy God with all our heart and soul and mind." We have a God Who is understanding, compassionate and loving, a God Who is able to do anything and everything, a God Who is perfect and wise and Who has proved His care for us over and over again. It is only our own stubbornness that hinders our loving Him as He asked us to. God is very lovable.
But our neighbour? That is another story.
Our neighbour, at times, is nasty, aggressive and/or devious. Our neighbour may mock us, argue or gossip, do physical damage and deliberately hurt us. Our neighbour may swear and abuse us, can be dirty and unkempt.
The quiet words are unmoved: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."
The disciples asked: "Who is our neighbour?" Yes, Lord, who precisely is our neighbour? (A reprieve?)
Jesus told them- everyone, including your enemies. And He told them how to be neighbourly.
An old saying now comes to mind: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
I have yet to hear anyone say: "No, this is wrong. It can't be true!" Our hearts tell us otherwise. We know that without the change Jesus has brought to our lives, we would be just as rude and nasty as the next person.
Therefore, logical thought should lead us to the conclusion that our nasty neighbour needs Him too.
"How shall they hear without a preacher?" How indeed? Oh Lord Jesus, everything You say is complete.
So... if we want our nasty neighbour to become our nice neighbour, we must love him so much with the love that Christ gives us that our loving actions will lead to an opportunity to tell our neighbour about our loving Saviour Who loved us all so much that He gave His life for all of us- you, me and our neighbours.
Then we will truly be loving our neighbour as ourselves.From One Work-in-Progress to Another
True Colours (JB)
"I don't know how you could even think of going away again and leaving me! God brought you home to look after me, now!"
After giving her daughter to God to serve Him as an overseas missionary for 18 years, Dorothy could not bear the thought of losing her again.
It was an illness that had brought Josephine home from Africa, but after only one year at home she felt much better. Dorothy was astounded when she said to her, "I think God is calling me to serve him as a missionary again."
How, thought Dorothy, could she even think of such a thing!
But at fifty-two, Josephine had distinctly heard the unmistakable call of God to her to go again to serve Him in another country.
Just one week later, as she entered the nursing-home room, even as she crossed the threshold, her mother's voice came to her from the bed in such a tone that she knew something wonderful had happened.
"Darling, there are some words going round and round in
my head and I must tell you about them."
"He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" and "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel."
They hugged each other and their eyes were wet with tears, and for both, they were tears of joy. A life-time of reading her Bible and believing what she read had enabled Dorothy to show her true colours. She had given her daughter to God, and what she had given, she would take back.
God gave Dorothy and Josephine six more years together before, at the age of 92, He took Dorothy Home to Himself. Within months the Lord fulfilled His Call to Josephine. He took her back to Africa to serve Him again as a missionary, just as He had promised her that He would do.
My Other Book
Our greatest joy as Christians is to tell others about Jesus and his Salvation that is for them too. As writers we can think of numerous ways of doing this and as one who also has the gift of drawing I was able to also use this gift to tell others the most wonderful offer of Jesus' Salvation. When as a missionary nurse in Africa I worked in a Leprosy Hospital, I drew afew pictures of Jesus' life to communicate the Gospel to a young man who not only had leprosy but was born deaf and dumb. He could not read but he could understand the pictures I drew. I thought, "If ever I find time I would like to make a book of pictures for such people in countries like this where deaf and dumb people are not able to hear or read about Jesus' Salvation."
The opportunity came ten years later when I was working in Liberia and we ex-patriots were given 3 days notice to escape the civil war by being flown to England. What was I to do next? I did not know but as I had a 6 months visa I sat down and started to draw 100 pictures for a book called "Every Picture Tells a Story. " It started with Creation, Adam and Eve, sin, Moses and the God-given 10 Commandments, the first idol and how it was smashed, the God-given Sacrifice of a lamb for sin, then to the Angel coming to Mary, then to Joseph in a dream, and so on through Jesus life of miracle healings to judgement, cruxification death and resurrection of Jesus, his ascension to heaven and finished with the Gospel being taught by a teacher to children today.
The Mission Superintendant's wife, Mrs. Fernando, suggested that I make it into colouring-in books for children, and I got 1,000 printed - 500 in Sinhala, 300 in Tamil and 100 in English and they were distributed to Sunday-Schools by the Methodist Church. I kept some for the Mission School for disadvantaged children, and some on case God gave me work to do amongst children. This God did. As soon as the book was finished and out, He led me to street-children and my work was amongst them for the next five years
That was 20 years ago and the original copies of "Every Picture Tells a Story" have been used by a missionary friend to print copies for the Solomon Islands with captions in their language. These original master copies have lain in my bottom-draw for years but three nights ago they came out again.
A representative of the Mission called Barnabas Fund came to speak at our Village and he was from Sri Lanka. After the meeting we talked and I mentioned the picture Bible Story Book. He wanted to see it and came up to my unit. He used to be a Bible Society Representative in Sri Lanka and he wonders whether they or someone else might be interested to re-print it.
I gave him a Solomon Island copy with their language and also the original copies of the book plus 2 CDs that my computer-friend here, Graham Lees, made for me.
After he had gone, before I went to bed I read something
from my devotional book by Spurgeon, and just happened to
open it and read where in Sri Lanka I had written "Tonight
I went out to Jesus and saw Mrs. Fernando who looked at my
pictures and suggested I make them into colouring-in books
for children." Prayer: Lord, please commission me to make
these books for You. "Given to read: Luke 8:39 where the
man out of whom Jesus cast many demons wanted to go with
Jesus but Jesus said to him: "Return home and tell how
much God has done for you."So the man went away and told
all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.:
How amazing that I shouldfind these words I had written recording my prayer and that verse 20 years ago and now I meet a man who resurrects the hope ofgetting it re-printed!
I had forgotten about it and God had now reminded me, so my heart filled with hope that if this is from the Lord, Jude might be able to get it re-printed for children and also adults in a country where many people can follow the language of pictures even though not able to read, but that the story will also be there in the languages of the people Would you please pray that if this is from the Lord, it will be done for Sri Lanka, and any other countries where their own language can be added to the pictures.
Loneliness- some thoughts by Max ScottI know lonely
Lonely is your first day at High School surrounded by hundreds of faces you do not know
Lonely is struggling through adolescence tongue-tied in the face of your mates' easy familiarity with girls
Lonely is work Monday mornings, all your friends talking enthusiastically about the weekend's football - and you had no interest and didn't watch it
Lonely is sitting in your living-room, and having no part in the spirited conversation taking place between your wife and your daughters
Lonely is the strange existential stab sitting waiting for your wife on a seat in a shopping centre - and realising that perhaps one day, if she dies first, you might be sitting on this self same seat with no one to wait for.
Alone is a horse of a different colour.
Alone is time to think
to feel thankful
even perhaps, if the muse is willing,
to scribble down thoughts for the next poem.
-Max ScottJuly 2014
Vladimir HorowitzAround March 1987 Gwen and I saw a program on Vladimir Horowitz, a famous and by now very elderly pianist. The next morning a little poem:
I heard Horowitz last night
an old man in his eighties
and the music flowed
and the magic flowed
from old gnarled fingers
from the hands of an old man
who could hardly walk
and from old lips
the giants of yesteryear
and for a while
as he played
the masters lived again
what is this magic
that is music?
a why does it mean so much
to so many
and to me?
I would have little in common
with Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin
yet in their music
their souls speak to mine
and we are in harmony -
eccentric brilliant composer
and ageing, middle class
soaring beyond time
surely of all God's gifts
one of the greatest
music must be
- for somehow, in it,
- He has a part
- and somehow in it
my soul comes free and
for a while
my mind and spirit soar
and when it ends
and I return
I am the richer
for the journey I have made
more than the food of love
is the theme of life itself
I rest my case.
The Piano- Thoughts at Midnight
To my dear wife Gwennie
I taught myself piano as a kid. Two speeds. Slow. Or stop while I worked out which notes came next. No lessons for me. A few of my friends were learning and hated it. Why should I put myself through that?
Slow. Nearly drove eldest sister Nett mad with my laborious efforts at Handel's Largo. Mum was more supportive. Sister Bon even tried to help, sharing,her knowledge and her bad habits which survive to this day.
But somehow, it was something I had to do. Slowly, painstakingly, after a year or two I was able to add a very slow slow movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.
By the end of high school I could play a few pieces, or the easy bits of them. - always classical, never fast, but now sometimes even musical.
Came in handy as I studied for the Leaving Certificate and University. A routine - fifty minutes study, ten minutes piano - some semblance of sanity in this unreal world of scholarship.
Kept it up as a young engineer in the country - an hour or two now and then on the old piano down at the tennis club.
And into my first marriage. I had the old piano re-felted and mum and dad were glad to give it to me and get rid of it.
I wasn't all that good on it, and doubt my young wife had any interest in it or enjoyed it much.
Certainly as the kids grew there was less and less time - and less and less incentive - to play. Look, that marriage didn't go all that well - four daughters, yes, a wonderful bonus. But my wife and I didn't really hit it off and there were underlying tensions.
Time came when I could play a couple of traditional love songs. "Drink to me only with thine eyes" and Greig's Ich liebe dich - I love you". Loved the music. Somehow those songs stirred a deep atavistic yearning in my soul to really love a woman.
But I knew as I played them that my music had no focus, no object - this love business was all hypothetical.
Fast forward forty years. It's thirty years now since my first wife pulled the pin and we separated. Been remarried for most of those thirty years. Still playing piano, probably a bit better after a few years of real lessons between marriages.
Second time round a different story. I still like to play those two love songs. But it struck me recently that now as I play them they have a focus and they have so much more meaning - an expression of the love that once eluded me - and is now somehow part of me, my being, my life itself.
I was an engineer. Used to mathematical equations, if not always that competent with them. But cluey enough to know that values on each side of an equals sign are interchangeable. So I conclude that if God is love, then love in its turn is an expression - perhaps the only possible expression - of the God who loves us.Gwennie, I love you with all my heart - and thank God for you.
-Max Scott6th February 2015
Afraid To Die
Death to most people today can be a terrifying thought. Mostly they try to avoid the subject, pretending it will never happen to them. Have you ever been afraid to die? An elderly man of 79 told me he was very frightened of death; yet he had prayed every night of his life. My own mother was afraid to die, so was my Aunt. I think perhaps they were fearful to leave the ones they loved behind.
Perhaps it is the fear of the unknown that causes most of the distress. They prefer to leave the discussion for those who knew for sure. Those who are not Christians laugh it off by saying, "Only the good die young.'When age catches up with them they refrain from discussing the subject.
They watch their friends disappearing from their midst, a look of fear in their eyes. They begin to wonder who will be next. I well remember as a child hearing my grandmother say, 'Another friend gone, Robert. I wonder when our time will come.'
Grandpa would smile and touch her hand, 'Not to worry Mother, the good Lord will take us when He know it is best.'
The Bible tells us that death to a Christian is life. St Paul longed for the time when he would see his Saviour face to face. 1 Cor. 13:12. Jesus said, 'in my Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to myself. So that you will be where I am.' John 14:23
How wonderful that Jesus has told us this. He has promised to prepare a place for us. And, that He himself will come and take us there.. When we close our eyes in death, Jesus will be there. He has promised to take us to the place He has prepared for us. How comforting it is to know this truth.
We need not fear, for He is with us even on the other side of the grave. It is His face that we will see. His arms will be about us. The old chorus tells us: 'The things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.'
Jesus, our Saviour and friend, has promised He will never leave us. That means in death as well as in life. Once we place our lives in His, we need never fear again.
Jesus also said, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me will live, although he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me. will never die.' John 11: 25,26.
These were the words he spoke to Martha, while her brother lay in the tomb. He had been dead for four days yet Jesus brought him back to life again.
We, who die in Jesus, will live forever. Only our body dies. The real us, our spirit,, passes from death to life.
The Bible tells us, 'There will be no more pain, no more crying; no more death. God, Himself, will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Old things will pass away,' Rev. 21: 4,5. All things will become new.
So, we who fear death, should think again. If Jesus is our Saviour, He has overcome death for us, Death is swallowed up in victory. Jesus did that for us on the cross, 2,000 years ago, Remember, He rose again and because of this, we too shall rise with Him.
A FAVOURITE SCHOOLTEACHER
Mrs Taylor was not just out of Teacher's College but had children of her own and had taught grade 3 for some years. It was into her class of 3A that I went when I was 7 years old. it was a big move and a new experience and a need to travel by bus alone.
Previously I had walked to a small school situated in bushland at Ramsgate which catered only for kindergarten and grade 1 and 2 with mixed classes. The change was a challenge. To continue school I then needed to attend Kogarah public primary school for girls. This adjoined the kindergarten section, the secondary Domestic Science School for girls and the primary and Intermediate High School for boys but each property was separate. The primary school building I attended had the date of 1899 cut into the stone at its entrance and was a substantial brick building with a turret. At the front there were gardens, at the back and where we entered there was a large playground. It was black tar with a small garden in the centre and a large Morton Bay tree tucked in a corner giving the only shade in an otherwise unsheltered play space. With the swarm of school children, kindergarten to high school, verging on all the properties it was daunting.
The classroom of 3A was situated at the head of a flight of stairs. When the school bell rang after being dismissed from lines we marched up the stairs to the tune of Colonel Bogey played on a gramophone. In my first experience of this I was carried along by the group who would be my new class mates not knowing what to expect next. Class 3A numbered about 40. How Mrs Taylor made us feel comfortable in the new surroundings I don't know. With her motherly touch she soon had control of the children in her care and quickly knew each one's name. I don't recall disruptions in her class and noticed she dressed very plainly but won respect. It did not take long for me to adjust to this very new environment and there were other girls from my previous school who travelled on the same bus as I did, one of whom became my friend also of the same name, Beryl.
Mrs Taylor must have been a good teacher but I don't remember her methods, however I was promoted to the A classes in the rest of primary school where some classes went to level C. My friend Beryl wasn't in my class. This teacher must have made an important impression on me as I do not remember the names of the teachers I had in grade 4 or 5 but became the monitor of the headmistress, Miss Shorter in 6A.
For me, because of the way Mrs Taylor helped in the transition from kindergarten to primary school and from one school to another, she is someone I do not forget. I think I owe her for the love I had of being at school and of learning in the future years.
True Colours (JH)Sunlight, moonlight... starlight bright...
Torchlight... lamplight, clean white light;
Prism, raindrop... crystal delight...
Light shines through for a wondrous sight.
Red and orange... yellow too,
Forest green and clear~sky blue...
Indigo... violet - rainbow hue
God's promise shown in colours true.
-Judy Hall9th February 2015
Ms ShoobridgeMs Shoobridge my favourite teacher be,
She who taught so very much to me,
Sport, PE, athletics coach as well,
Health and safety on her shoulders fell.
One who followed Christ for all to see.
One who gave her Wednesday lunchtimes free,
Bringing words of life to girls whos hear,
Raising knowledge of the Saviour dear.
In my days at school she truly led,
Dedication showed in all she did.
Gentle, calm and loving was her way,
Earning the respect of all each day.
-Judy Hall12th October 2014
A Significant Sign
My breath caught as I glanced at the wondrous sight outside my window. There before me was a glorious one hundred and eighty degree arc shimmering in its brilliant hues, the seven colours of the rainbow, delicately tipping the landscape from one end to the other. It was indeed a glorious testimony to our Heavenly Father's love and care.
I remembered the promise that God had given us - never again would He flood the whole earth.
It had grieved Him to flood the Earth, but the wickedness had been very great; mankind's thoughts and deeds evil all the time. And who suffers when evil runs rampant? Those that are young and tender and vulnerable. How could a just and perfect God feel anything but abhorrence for such deeds and actions and act accordingly?
But afterwards He repented of the destruction caused by the flood and a promise was given to all mankind, beginning with Noah and his family over four thousand years ago that God would never flood the whole earth again. God gave mankind a sign of His promise. He set His bow in the sky for all to see and remember.
But why should I be affirmed in my faith by this sight? I think of Christ constantly, never feeling alone. I am not in meditation, I am in communion with the only One Who truly understands. I read the Bible and enjoy the wisdom and truths inscribed in its pages, giving hope to the world and the Spirit within me endorses the truth of the Word of God.
So why does the rainbow bring out this response from deep within me?
I think it is because I am seeing before my eyes a picture of God, a portrait of His perfection and purity shining forth in magnificent splendour and love. The rainbow is painted in brilliant luminous colours, telling us of God's vibrancy. We cannot reach out to touch this portrait, nor are we able to disfigure its beauty or limit it in any way. We can but praise Him.
It is indeed a Significant Sign of our God.
The six lanes of thick traffic thrust and roared, screeched and moaned before us. Three lanes each way, all at the same time. The volume was deafening. "Has anybody ever made it across this road alive?" I thought out loud. I was quickly becoming dizzy from the constant shuffling of my head from left to right.
As I stood in a daze, I felt my little boy slip his warm trusting hand into mine and squeeze tight. I looked down at his smiling innocent face looking back at me. For a split second, time stood still I was in Paradise, nothing thing else mattered. For that second, it was just he and I.
He wasn't at all fussed! He had no concept of on coming traffic, speed, timing or momentum- no, without even a second thought, he'd placed his whole life, indeed his next breath in my hand. Would he ever comprehend how much I love him? The over whelming honour of knowing he's wanting to be with me as much as I'm wanting to be with him was a little too much. I had to hide my tears.
Had I not been trapped inside the box of prior engagements and scheduled commitments, I could easily have waited the hour for the next bus and extended the moment. As it was, I took a snap shot of this breath in time and filed it in my memory bank. It really was critical that we get across this traffic maze as quickly and safely as possible.
I picked up my little boy and held him close, so close, I could feel his little pulse tapping on my chest.
Then it happened. A change in traffic light sequence in one direction, and a turning semi trailer taking up three lanes in the other. It was like The Lord Himself parted Epping Road for my little boy and I to casually stroll across without a care or concern.
I took a deep breath and felt the pressure of life lift. We'd made it through the most difficult hurdle so far today; the rest would fall into place as planned.
While thoughtlessly plunging forward, it was as though The Lord's open palm appeared in my face. Was this a divine revelation? The replay button had started and I stopped dead in my tracks. I have made the conscious decision to put my next step, my very life in to His Hand. God doesn't see the six lanes of life's traffic obstacles heading straight for me from every direction, but I seem to focus on them. He has taken no regard to life's thrusts and roars. The moans and screeches don't register on His radar, He's not bound inside that same box as I am. The Lord doesn't revolve around my daily life snarls. He gently cradles my tapping heart and wraps it in His protection. I am His little girl. Nothing else matters, it's just Him and me. And I probably have no concept of how overwhelmingly honoured it makes Him feel knowing I am wanting to be with Him as much as He wants to be with me.
As swiftly as I was taken away in my thoughts, my little boy brought me back, only this time I couldn't hide the tears.
I thanked The Lord that no matter how many creases time imprints on our faces, we can always place our childlike trust in Him, knowing He'll cherish and seize the "one to one" moment into eternity.
Commit thy way unto The Lord: trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass (Psalm 37:5)
-Lillianne Mifsud20th April 2013
As writers our main tool is words. In the Bible there are many references to words. The Psalmist in Psalm 12:6 speaks about the Lord's words, he says, " God's words are flawless, like silver refined in the fire and purified seven times". We could apply these criteria when editing what we write!
Dr Elaine Storkey, a writer and broadcaster in Britain wrote a commentary on Ephesians: 6:14-17 in this way. "We can hear the metal clink in Paul's metaphors as swords, shields, helmets, belts, breastplates, all of which are in place ready for the fight." In further comment on verses 10-14 Dr. Storkey continued, "The challenge against God's rule of love is war waged in the spiritual realm where earth is the battlefield and clashes with the spiritual and evil can be very bloody and brutal."
It is because of these situations that as Christian writers we want to make a difference. Language is living and the use of words and the way we use them as well as their meanings change. However there is no change in the, LIVING WORD, John wrote about, Jesus being the living word who came to dwell among us.( John 1:1-5) In Hebrews (13:8) the writer spoke of Jesus as, "the same yesterday, today and forever." The good news of the gospel knows no change.
We are challenged to engage in spiritual warfare not just with the written word but being the living word. Paul when writing to the church at Corinth said, they were the recommendation of his ministry and they were to be read by all men. He likened them to a letter from God written by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, or perhaps for us on our computers, but on the tablets of the human heart (2 Corinthians:2-3). We need as Christian writers to mirror the image of God in daily living so that others will read our lives and see Jesus within. It is then that others will desire to read the words that we write.
The devotion for 2014 seminar in September
Shine And Shadow
I’ve taken myself outdoors with a cuppa to put my thoughts to paper. But how do I write about ‘shine and shadow’ in the same context ?
My mental images are of glamorous women in plush fur coats wearing flashing diamond rings and the afternoon sunshine casting their own shadows on the top deck of a cruise liner as they sip their chilled cocktails in the soft breeze.
Or perhaps, a sharp, crisp, sun shiny, morning sitting under the shadow of the grey gum tree, enjoying a freshly brewed cup of English breakfast.
Or even now, as I pause my thoughts, my sight is stolen by the shine of a single spider web thread. It appears to be gently floating in the airs breath. But what about the spider I ask myself? Could it be hiding in the safety of a near by curled leaf? Or could it even be in the shadow of the cooled bundle of newspaper stacked close by? Well one thing is for certain, it will remain safely hiding, as it won’t be disturbed by me!
When we consider the Living Word of God, we learn in Matthew 4:16 that “... the people... have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts is shadow, a light has shined.”
As I collate my thoughts I am now able to sum up a conclusion up in just a few words.
One source of shine captures the eyes, the here and now. The other source of shine is not necessarily seen but rather invites eternity, a hope and forever.
And on the other hand, one shadow is cast by the suns rays that shine on people that, in time fades to darkness.
The other shadow is cast by the bondage of death which is broken in the light and shine of God’s Word.
So maybe ‘shadow and shine’ can be related in the same context after all…
True Colours (TT)
Oh what a fateful night! Ann still remembered the first time she met her husband Steven. She was so thrilled to get a ticket to the Nurses Annual Ball where she was introduced to Steven and they hit it off right away. It was such a wonderful time. They could have danced all night. He was so warm and kindhearted.
She could have never imagined then that there was a dark side to his nature that would later cause her to fear for her life.
From the first night, they started to meet often and he treated her as his princess, bringing flowers and gifts and always speaking softly words of love. Even her uncle thought he was a very kind man.
Steven proposed after nine months and they were married soon after. They had a big wedding in their local Methodist Church.
People even came from overseas for this very happy occasion and their newly-wed life was filled each day with love and joy.
But after only one year it all changed. What should have been their greatest blessing, the birth of their first son David, became the greatest challenge to their married life together.
Her husband changed completely. He became increasingly angry and selfish. He became violent and he was jealous of their son because she spent more time with him. When the child cried, he yelled at her not to pick him up. She ignored him, but once, when she picked him up, he hit her across her face. She was shocked now to see his true colors; his insecurity and cruel nature were revealed.
At first she didn’t know he was heartless. She always thought he had a kind and loving nature .The change came so quickly she was too slow to see it coming. She told him she would leave with the child. He became violent and he hit her on her face again and spat on her. She ran to the door and he grabbed her by the throat and almost squeezed the life out of her. She gasped for air, she thought she’d die. He banged her head against the wall and she kicked him. He dropped her to the floor and kicked her on her head and body. “This will teach you a lesson,” he said. She felt a sharp pain piercing through her body. She cried and she was frightened of him. Her tears ran down uncontrollably.
She asked herself why he’s so angry at her. Did she stop him from achieving his goal in life? Did someone else do something bad to him in the past? Or maybe his parents treated him badly. She must try to find the answer.
She saw his auntie Vera and she asked her about Steven's past. She cut her off quickly by saying, “Whatever happened in the past stays in the past”. She left it at that and not knowing what really happened to him.
They saw their friend Phillip and he asked them, “How are things?"
“Not so good at the moment” she answered.
"Alright, come and see me at my office at 11 o'clock."
“We will be there on dot,” Steven replied.
They arrived on time and he greeted them. Phillip had become a counselor since knowing Steven in High School. He was a good friend. They talked about their problem and Steven admitted that he had an issue in the past that was painful and caused him to become violent. Phillip told him he'd help him solve his problem. Steven knew that Phillip still loved him and he thanked him.
After two years of counseling Steven revealed his past experience to his friend Phillip. Now he’s a lot calmer and happier, stable and confident, not jealous and angry anymore and he loves his wife and their son David.
David finished his study at the University and he’s now working. They were happy because God never let them down. They thanked him for loving their family. He blessed them in many ways and they love him dearly.
A Ten Year Change
A ten year change from what to what?
Interesting question! For a ten year old child, it’s a change from being a new born infant to, well an entire lifetime!
An unkempt rose garden left to ruin during a ten year period can change from a sweet fragrance, vibrant colour attraction and an owners pride and joy to an avoided safety risk, a safe haven for spiders and insects and jolly hard work to bring back to its former glory.
However, while pondering changes over the last decade, my thoughts are repeatedly drawn back to my daily rail commute between my home suburb and the city. Ten years ago, it was safe to travel at night and in some areas possibly even alone. Ten years ago, a pregnant woman might even have been offered a seat on a crowded train. Ten years ago, it was common courtesy for boarding passengers to stand back and allow passengers to disembark through a clear open passage, then board the train.
My, how a ten year change can spiral and gain momentum in the process.
From how I see it, the further we as a human race slip away from The Lord and His instructions for living, the more a ten year change takes a turn for the worse.
But thanks to the price that was paid on the cross by Jesus, we have a Hope. We do have redemption.
The only way for the Lords garden of human creation to be brought back to its intended former glory is by hearing The Word of God, doing what It says and not forgetting it.
It brings me comfort and rest, cradling in the Truth that God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever.
To The Lord, a thousand years is like a day and a day is like a thousand years.
God’s Word is alive, consistent and is all that matters in the eyes of eternity.
My Favourite Teacher
I sat, my eyes glued to the small screen as were the eyes of everyone in the converted garage. Heather was showing us a new DVD that depicted true stories of God's goodness to Israelis of today.
A small band of Israeli soldiers were making their way back to base after an assignment. They had been caught in "No Man's Land": each man moved with great trepidation as they all knew this area had been covered with mines. Each step they took could lead to death or maiming.
Night descended suddenly (as it is wont to do at that time of year), ink black. The situation worsened when the wan-like moon hid behind a cloud. Suddenly a strong wind sprang out of nowhere, whipping stinging sand into bone-tired bodies and straining eyes. They could only crouch and wait.
As suddenly as it had come, the wind was gone, flicking its tail in farewell as it headed into the night. Gently and purposefully the clouds moved out of the path of the moon, allowing it brilliant light to bathe the Earth.
But not only the Earth. The moon's beams revealed the mischief of that wind. For the wind had blown away so much sand that now the mines lay there exposed in the moonlight for all to see. The soldiers could negotiate their way home safely knowing where to plant firm young feet.
They had learned that their loving God is always with them, moving and accomplishing great deeds when and where He wills, no matter how impossible the task.
We who pray and support Israel and Jewish missions shared in this lesson also. Once again my favourite Teacher was training us all, both in Israel and Australia that we only need to trust and obey Him.
Tom stood looking over the deep murky waters of the Murray River. From his vantage point on the bridge, Tom could sometimes see the small black turtles that inhabited this part of the river, frolicking and diving together in joyous abandonment. Tom often came here with his mother to look for them. He now glanced towards his mother below, as she sat at her easel painting the scene before her. Even though he was only five years old, Tom was aware of the deep happiness and contentment her hobby gave her.
But the peaceful scene was broken when a tall figure strode purposefully towards his mother. Tom recognised him as the new person in town who persistently tried to waylay his mother when Tom's father was working. "Couldn't she spare a moment for a lonely stranger?" "Would she be needing a lift into town?" Politely his mother would refuse and she and Tom continued their long walks, sharing the enjoyment of the soft countryside.
"I'll make sure I'll get your attention," yelled the stranger. Suddenly he grabbed the canvas from the easel, hurling it into the waters. Instinctively Tom's mother reached forward for her precious painting, then slipped with the momentum into the greedy waters below.
"Mummy, Mummy, Mummy," called Tom desperately as he ran down to the spot where his mother had been.
"Tom, Tom," the quiet voice made itself heard through the mists of years, "time to wake up."
Confused, Tom slowly emerged into the real world. He was sitting in the consulting room of a well-respected and accredited hypnotist, a Miss Barbara Chalmers. His Psychologist had referred him to her as Dr Graham was concerned about deep anxieties that Tom had been experiencing. Vaguely Tom wondered; had he really been sitting there, a grown man of thirty-three, calling out for his Mummy? Tom had a strong desire to make a quick exit, never to return.
"You seemed to be upset," gently started Miss Chalmers. "Can you remember what was happening?"
"Yes," replied Tom, "I was remembering back to my Mother's death when I was five years old. I was standing on a bridge overlooking the Murray River watching the turtles swimming below. My Mother loved to paint; she was by the River's edge with her easel and brushes. A new man had moved into our small town, Andy Griffiths was his name I learnt later, and he had become obsessed with my Mother who was quite beautiful. Mum and Dad were happily married; she considered Andy a nuisance, but that did not stop him."
"This particular day he had apparently followed us, determined to get her attention.
'I'll make you notice me,' he yelled. With that he grabbed her painting to throw into the River. Mum tried to stop him, lost her footing and fell into the Murray. My Mother couldn't swim and she drowned," Tom concluded quietly.
"How dreadful! What happened to you after that?"
"Dad and I were fortunate as we had a loving and supportive family. Dad's Mother was widowed; she was able to come and look after us. She was a wonderful Gran, although I missed the fun of my Mother and the games we played together."
"And what happened to Andy Griffiths?"
"He was charged with the murder of my Mother and is in prison even now."
"Did he really commit murder?"
"No, but I am probably the only one that knows that. As I was only five at the time, I wasn't questioned, as nobody wanted to upset me further. Without Andy Griffith's intrusion, my Mother would most probably be alive today." A note of bitterness crept into Tom's voice with the last sentence.
Barbara Chalmers chose her words carefully. "Tom, I will have to include this in my report back to Dr Graham. I will suggest that you and he need to discuss this further."
"Why?" asked Tom, "It all happened so long ago."
"This occurrence and relative matters have been simmering below the surface for many years now. I think you would benefit from considering some of these issues with your adult perspective."
That night Tom reflected back on the death of his Mother. His Mother's tragic passing had left a vacuum which had never been filled, even though his life had been enriched by the love and kindness of his family.
But what of Andy? His life had been cut off because of his foolishness and impetuosity. Reluctantly Tom faced the fact that Andy, at worst, should have been charged with manslaughter, not murder.
What did the judgement have to do with him? But Tom's persistent conscience would not let him be. A man had had his life forfeited and Tom alone had the key to right the injustice. Tom now knew what he was going to do. Tomorrow he would make a formal statement at the Police Station and request that this crime be looked at again.
His sleep that night was deep and untroubled.
Jook waited patiently while Satan carefully finished grooming the fine red hairs that grew over his sleek and trimmed body. Jook looked with envy at Satan, admiring the sleekness and the beautiful scarlet colour of his hair, while two highly polished ebony horns grew upwards from the top of his forehead. He admired the way Satan could change in an instant into another form such as an elegant and sophisticated gentleman. Satan was sitting on a throne of fire, the flames leaping about him as he sat in complete comfort and flamboyant style.
Jook wished he could look like Satan. To be quite truthful, Jook reminded one of a maggot - same anaemic colour and same grub-like shape. But he was smart and he was ambitious, more ambitious than any of the other demons. He was going to go places.
Finally Satan was finished. He looked up, affecting surprise. "What are you here for my young grub?" he asked in an imperious tone.
"If it please your honour, I have had an idea on which I humbly seek your wise and considered opinion. It is just a little idea that might help those ignorant humans to see the error of their ways and listen to the great wisdom that emanates from you."
Satan was pleased by Jook's words, though he was not going to let Jook know. At least this demon knew how to address him. "And what might that idea be?" he asked.
"The idea is this," replied Jook slowly. "What if you, O noble One, led one of those ignorant humans to invent an entertainment box - something that transmitted images and news and comments from around the world into everyone's living room. And everyone would sit there watching and judging everyone else, each one thinking that he or she knew all the answers, understood the full story and would know what should or shouldn't be done. No one would be involved in any helpful way. They would all be isolated from each other and thinking themselves superior."
"What a splendid idea!" Satan exclaimed. He chuckled to himself thinking of the possibilities that could ensue. Serve those nasty little creatures right!
It took a couple of years, but finally one young inventor was encouraged to invent what he called a television set. And after few more years he earnestly developed the said television further so that the sound and the picture were perfected. Finally, the day came when retailers were able to display these new inventions in black and white pictures only. Television was here and it was popular- even more so when the picture was coloured.
Satan, of course, was everywhere- suggesting a perverted programme here, violence there. He delighted in seeing people drawn into what was being promoted, even to some enjoying crudity. But most of all he gloated as the public, seriously watched the news and current affairs programmes. Rarely did the information inspire the viewers to assist their fellow man; they would analyse the report, sometimes arguing a point and judge the person or the situation. They knew what should have been done and so each one isolated him or herself from other members of the human family.
That old proverb "there, but for the grace of God, go I" had virtually been erased from human memory.
Satan was delighted with the success of Jook's "What if..." and promoted him to a position where he was able to bring needle-sharp suffering to some poor humans. Jook now became a sickly green colour so that all now noticed him with the promise that further successful ideas could develop him further.
True Colours (BT)
"True colours"- the meaning as understood by most, if not all of us, is of being and showing our true character. The true colour of someone can be a surprise- even a disappointment- when we suddenly are confronted by the true characteristics of an acquaintance or friend. You all, my fellow writers and readers will have guessed what my next question is: how true are the colours of we who are Christians?
We all know the answer to that: it is we who have been reborn spiritually, who have believed and professed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only One Who is the Messiah and the fulfilment of all the Biblical prophesies. He is the One Who was able to and came and sacrificed Himself in our place for our sins so that we are now redeemed by His blood and will one day live with Him in Eternity. Hallelujah!
The day of our salvation was the day that a change started in our hearts. It became our joy to converse with Him in prayer and meditation, to read His Word and to remember Him in fellowship with other Christians. And so we began our Christian walk.
But there is an important point that sometimes escapes our notice. We know that we need to be forgiven for us to receive redemption, but it is equally important that we forgive others. In Matthew 18:23-35 Jesus told us the parable of the unjust servant, who having been forgiven a great debt of ten thousand talents (equivalent to millions of dollars) by his merciful master, brutally attacked and imprisoned a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii (ten dollars). When the master learned how the unjust servant treated the servant's debtor, he was so angry that he delivered the first servant to the torturers.
"So My Heavenly Father will also do to you if each of you does not forgive his brother from his heart."
Serious words indeed. Does that mean we could lose our Heavenly reward because of our unforgiving attitude? Jesus words are very plain - if we love Him we will keep His commandments. We need to be showing the true colour of our faith by not only being forgiven, but also by being forgiving.
I heard a true story on the radio once of a German poet or artist (I forget which) who whilst being served coffee in a Melbourne cafe noticed the numbers tattooed on the Jewish waitress' arm. Overcome by emotion, he wept. The waitress comforted him and many in the Melbourne Jewish community befriended and had continued that friendship with him up to the time I heard this story.
There is forgiveness.
Should not we, who have known the forgiveness of Christ, be even more forgiving towards our fellow man? Our true colours should be blazing forth for all to see.