Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Spirit of Christmas

There's something again making me want to rant etc! and partly about Christmas ...

Firstly this morning on the radio they were talking about online businesses' orders not arriving before Christmas. They interviewed some couple who had ordered online for their kids' Christmas presents and were now told it wouldn't get to them until after Christmas. There was some comment about "they've always got what they wanted before" so they "didn't know what to say to them". Well, my thought was, it's an opportunity to teach kids they're not always going to get what they want! I don't fully approve of the Santa thing either to be honest. On to something else...

This thought was brought to mind thanks to a blog post I read today, about how unfair it is that so many people are unable to adopt, and therefore lots of orphans are still living in poverty, some maybe being sent to an institution if not adopted. Are THEY going to get what they want? Do they expect it? No. Some will not even understand what Christmas is, and in this country (and other developed ones) kids are just spoiled. They expect to get what they want, without question.

I heard of this song recently too, A Christmas Carol, about a little girl who responds to Santa's question of what she wants with "all I want is someone to take me home". That's what those kids would ask for if they got the chance, and for those here not getting presents in time: It's not the end of the world. You'll get them eventually, but there are some kids who will not ever get anything like that. We've got so many blessings we take for granted, and while I am certainly not perfect either, it's definitely something important to think about.

I will say also that not every child around here thinks only of getting. The local papers have been a bit happier in the past month, with titles like "The true spirit of Christmas". This is about a young boy from up here who has cancer and considers himself one of the lucky ones as he will be home for Christmas. For this reason he started an appeal for presents to be given to the children who will not be at home this Christmas. And of course this has had tremendous support and despite not-ideal weather conditions, everything arrived!

Some people will have an enjoyable Christmas this year; some, through no fault of their own, will not. For those complaining, remember what you DO have. This Christmas, let's think of others and remain happy and cheerful just to have family get-togethers, even if we haven't got all the presents we want.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Walking in a Winter Wonderland....

It's that time of year again: Christmas is coming! As much as I'm sure we ALL enjoy all Christmassy things, I just want us all to remember, firstly the reason for the season: Jesus. Loads of people just don't know and you don't get much mention of Him, or of anything Christmas related, in the pantomimes and everything. I love the pantomime, but we need a good mixture.

And all those people in the poor countries who don't have what we have. I heard a talk from someone who went to Cape Town on mission recently and some things you don't want to know. At the same time, it was also proof that prayers do work, that through those mission people, and us who pray for them, God is changing lives for the better still.

With everything that goes on now I just want us to remember those two things. I think a lot of bloggers have written about those things more so recently.

"Crackers and turkey and puddings and cream, toys in the window that I've never seen. This is the Christmas that everyone sees, but Christmas means more to me. It's somebody's birthday I won't forget as I open the things that I get. I'll remember the inn and the stable so bare and Jesus who once lay there."

On that note, life is good and I don't want to write anything negative just now so .... enjoy the festive season!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

We need a whole lot more of Jesus!

Nope, this week's not been easy. Being with typical teenagers talking about all these things teenagers do (I'm still one myself, but don't fit in with them.) is tough. But that's not completely what I'm writing about.

I saw an article in a daily paper yesterday, about a Christian couple being denied the opportunity of fostering because they didn't believe in homosexuality. Seriously, there were quotes saying their views were "out of date" and even that "Christians may not be able to foster / adopt in the future". This makes me rather angry as I'm sure it can do to many others!

The Bible is very clear on this issue: "Do not lie with a man as you would with a woman, for this is a most hateful sin." (Leviticus 18:22)Simple. We can't really claim to be Christians and pretend this is acceptable. Other things too, we are called to show God's love to all, no matter what. "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and praise our Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) I saw a comment on a YouTube video the other day which was really powerful, saying how we need to get out there and let our "life songs sing for God", because "we can't just sit back and hope they'll somehow find a way to Jesus" and "if we don't, who else is going to?"

With this and other things, this country, and likely others too, aren't going according to God's will. There are a lot of things now considered "acceptable" which shouldn't be. As I said before about being among "typical" teenagers, they're doing things like getting drunk purposefully, or getting in trouble with the police. Do they care? No, doesn't seem like it. Added to that all that horrible language: I hate it if I'm honest!

Which brings me to Halloween. I'm not saying it's bad everywhere, from what I can tell it isn't, but here, it's too much. They're celebrating evil and though not intended, it's stopping some from worshipping God. Nobody shows up for children's Bible class Friday night: they all went to a Halloween party instead. No church service here tonight: they're all too scared to leave the house. Even though I wouldn't go out on Halloween generally, it is Sunday today and nothing like this should keep us from God.

Strangely enough I was just on Bible Gateway.com to find the references and the Verse of the Day is quite appropriate:

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”- 1 Peter 5:8-9

And the title: who says the Bible and suchlike goes out of date? These songs I'm listening to were taken off an old LP record from the 70's and the words are just as true today as they ever were:

"You can read it in the morning paper, you can hear it on the radio, how crime is sweeping our nation, this world is about to go. We need a good old case of salvation, to put the love of God in our soul, we need a whole lot more of Jesus and a lot less rock'n'roll! we need lots more prayers of faith, prayers that will move a mountain, save souls from a burning fate."

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Struggles & Perseverance

For some reason October is often a hard time of year for staying on track in faith. It's probably partly, or mainly, to do with the fact that regular Christian gatherings don't run in school holidays. This is always difficult, but the early part of October has been pretty good since I went away to do a camp again - this time somewhere I barely knew anybody so quite a leap of faith, but so glad I did it. I don't think it was quite the amazing one here in June, but there were still times I felt they were at least asking lots of interesting questions. It's always good to see folk interested, and these are kids from a city rather than here, and some not from church-going families, although you find those most places.

Back home at church - I've probably said before the struggles with a small place with mostly older people, and an old-fashioned kinda setting. There's one preacher in particular who I find hard to listen to and never look forward to. This is just my opinion, but hearing about animal sacrifices and how we don't need to do it anymore isn't what I find useful. I'd rather hear something relevant to modern-day life. It's never easy, but I did remember a verse from James:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

* The picture was taken at camp and it was someone else who pointed out the cross. Now I see it, it looks just beautiful seeing the cross standing in a park with kids enjoying it.

Monday, 20 September 2010

ponderings on heaven

I've always loved music and wanted to be able to play and sing. Whenever I sing to myself, it sounds good and I was happy, but I have a brother who has more of an ear for music than I do and he always told me I didn't sound good. So recently I did record myself singing and yes, it sounded awful. Seriously.

Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that it sounds good in my head, I don't know. Yes it's quite hard, but there was one thing that stuck out for me as good. One of my current favourite songs, the one I tried to sing, was "Better Than a Hallelujah" by Amy Grant. One line says "God just hears a melody".... so to God, even if we are the most horrific singers ever, well not to Him, I bet it's a beautiful melody to His ears.

This topic is also making me think of heaven. Since we'll have new bodies and everything's gonna be great up there, I'm sure we'll be able to do loads of things we just can't do here on earth. Another time I think of heaven a lot, especially lately, is when people say they're moving away. A while of sadness and grumping later, then I just realise what BLISS it's gonna be up there. There's an old hymn that says we shall never part again. I like to think it not only means no more parting from death, but also that we won't have to live far away, we'll be able to be together forever.

While I'm on the topic of heaven, it reminds me of one of the songs we've been hearing on Grandad's old LP records - many beautiful songs, but this one is called Will There Be Any Stars?
It's sung by Burl Ives

It talks about "Will there be any stars in my crown?" This is kind of a different topic from above, but the stars in the crown refer to good things we do on this earth that make God pleased. Whether it's really stars or not, I don't know, but they're little rewards, or something like that. Whatever, it's all gonna be good. But it does say that as much as we long to be there, there's things we need to do here first. Different for each one of us.

Still on this theme, another old song talks about "the good Lord's blessed the labour of these two hard-working hands and when all of life is over ... then these hands of mine shall touch the hands of God". Pretty much what I talked about before, but at the beginning of the chorus the singer belts out: There'll be a welcome there for me! And I find it really touching hearing words like that sung by people who have since passed into eternity and are up there enjoying this life at this moment. Same when I remember people say things like "my name's written in the book of life and someday I'm going up to be with Jesus", in no time at all, they're there.

That song brought to mind something else so I'll write about that too. It begins with "There are many things in life that I cannot understand". I'm sure that's true of us all. One thing about heaven that I've pondered without a productive answer, concerns those who died and were old enough to think for themselves, but for whatever reason weren't like an adult but more like a child and maybe their brain didn't work for figuring things out. I know it's simple enough for loads of people to understand, and I'm having a hard time describing what kind of people I'm on about, but I hope folks reading this will understand where I'm coming from. On this, I don't think there's really a concrete answer. So this song tells us, well we're not God and we'll just have to wait to know these things!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Does it matter?

Sometimes, people attract you for whatever reason. You admire them for being so nice, genuine, caring, meaningful, open, loving, or courageous. Or whatever you like or believe, people attract you when they have the same values. You know, it immediately turns you on when you hear they're a Christian, or turns you off when you hear they're an atheist. As judgemental as that sounds, and I certainly don't intend to do it, but sometimes that's just what happens.

Well, then you might find out something else about them that might make you feel differently. For me, that might have been : that they have been involved in as physical fight, that they swear, that they have had sex before marriage, or even that they're a Catholic or an atheist, supposing I've liked them in the first place. I saw something on my family tree recently in the dates that, if they are correct, point towards something wrong.

So what do you do? If you're human, you might turn off and your opinion of the person goes down. Or, what would Jesus do? Love them anyway. As much as I say I would do the same, I have had so little experience with some kinds of people that I wonder if I even would treat "different" people normally. Or if it's something they've done, forgive them. Or if their values are not what you'd agree with, pray for them. Sometimes that too seems like a tall order that doesn't seem like it will ever happen. I've started trying to pray for those on TV who I like for some reasons, but not for others. God can change people. "Nothing is impossible for God".

This song talks about that phrase in "nothing is impossible for You", repeated over and over, and although it's called "Healer", it can also be referred to being healed from sins.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Our God is a great big God...

Well, camp was an amazing time in which God was ever present! The total of kids becoming Christians was about SIXTEEN. Just amazing and so humbling for us. Some of them have no Christian connection so we're very aware sometimes that this might be all they get.

Each night four of us leaders did a question and prayer session with the girls in our dorm. At the beginning we asked around, were they a Christian, and we got some "don't-know's". It was amazing how often those kids who didn't know asked so many questions over these nights, until at the last we prayed round they ALL piped up and then one who'd been a "don't-know" quietly said "I prayed the prayer". We were all cheering for her and prayed round again for her, and we were all crying! And for me, it's a big deal since I almost never cry so God was totally there. He really was.

Something else I'd like to share: some kids came through the kids' club thing our small church runs and again the responsibility on us there is HUGE. That is all they're usually getting as to hearing about Jesus and I've felt ever since I became a Christian that this church doesn't do Him justice and HOW can someone be saved through this? I've been feeling like someone needs to do something for ages and then read this portion of scripture in Jeremiah which really encouraged me! And btw, I'm not one who regularly reads my Bible, other than my study notes, it's just what came up!

"The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew [a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth."

So I would say it's all worth it! Ok, from camp you do come home with lack of sleep and sun burns, but it's definitely worth that.

Here is a song we learned which made me cry a few times.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

"Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

On that note, let the summer begin! Or it may have already begun for some, but here, it is just beginning. I'm off to camp today for a few days and really hope I will have the confidence to speak up, enjoy myself, and most importantly help to share the love of Jesus.

I hope everyone has a fantastic summer, whatever you're doing! I love summertime, maybe because I was born at this time of year.

Thank You Jesus for friendship and sunny days. Thank You for the chances we still have to be together with other Christians and bringing You into other people's lives. I also thank Jesus for all these parents who send their kids to a Christian camp when they have no Christian background, just send them off to camp anyway. Kids have been saved at the camp before, let's pray for more.

Enjoy yourselves everybody.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Each mile I put between the past, and the future in Your hands...

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

I've known that verse so well over the past few years. At the stage I'm at in my life right now, it's more and more relevant. Making decisions is one of the hardest things in the world for me, so even more so when it's big decisions. The only decision that's currently easy is I'm going with what God wants and putting it all in His hands. That's probably easier saying it like that than actually doing it. I don't really like changes, but at the same time want to do something really big and different.

But in the past few days, while looking through my blog list as usual, a thought comes to me that I can be thankful that I do have decisions to make, that my future is open. I do wonder why I read people's blogs that make me so emotional, but at the same time I just love this thing of getting to know people from across the ocean and get inspired by them all the time.

So what I'm saying now, in particular, is about the things happening with Kristen recently. Some people have fewer options, and when they look to the future, it's not quite the same as when we do. Dreams and ambitions can seem further away, so I guess I can count myself lucky, even though I'm one of those people who have so few concrete plans.

Here is my current favourite song, which offers so much hope.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Joy of Chrissie

It's all over blogland right now. Over on All Are Precious In His Sight, Chrissie has gone to be with Jesus. I don't think it's really sunk in yet. Although I don't know them personally, a few months ago God led my heart to this family, as He has to many others. From what I can see, she was such a beautiful and happy little girl, so full of joy, as was, quite appropriately, her middle name.

On Building the Blocks I just read a post about Chrissie too - about the phrase Boss Your Heart which, as stated in the post, was something said to Chrissie just before a miracle occurred. So what that post said was that in memory of Chrissie, who I know I will remember for a long time, to let God be the boss of our hearts. Forever.

"Jesus Jesus, precious Jesus, oh for grace to trust You more. I'm so glad I learned to trust You ... ". I'm so glad I have Jesus. I thank You Lord for Chrissie's short life and for the many miracles You performed during it. I thank You for the whole heart of love You gave her, although her heart physically did not work as it should. I thank You that she is now in Your arms and being loved by You for eternity. We pray for those left behind, in whose hearts her memory will always live on. I pray for comfort, strength and peace for the family and all who knew her personally. Amen.

As I said once before, something like this takes the importance of everything else away. It doesn't matter that I never met her in this life. God drew me to her in spirit, through the amazing gift of the internet. I still feel emotional over it. So right now I hope we will all keep her memory alive.

* This picture is one I did on Paint for Chrissie's prayer book. I feel it is indeed very fitting: she is Princess Chrissie, the daughter of our King, Jesus Christ. And now she is with Him always. Smiling all the time. And, one of the little hearts has an extra line through it. That wasn't intended, but the more I look at it the more I feel it is meant to be. She had a "broken" heart while here on earth, but now it is healed like the other full hearts on the picture.

Smile for Jesus Chrissie ... and everyone smile for Chrissie.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The coolest kid in town ...

Here's another interesting little story. When a group of people were selling eco-friendly bags here, one actually called out "You'll be the coolest kid in town!"

Is that a good enough reason to buy one? I've never really wanted to be that popular. The things the so-called "cool" kids around here wear and have seem a bit over the top sometimes. And to support this, here is a quote from iwise.com:

"I want to be different, like everybody else I want to be like. I want to be just like all the different people. I have no further interest in being the same because I have seen difference all round and now I know that's what I want. I don't want to blend in and be indistinguishable. I want to be part of the different crowd and and assert my individuality along with others who are different like me."

What does God say about this? To look at Romans 12:2, we are told to "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

In a previous post, I mentioned Philippians 2:14-15, as it has the words "shine like stars", which I have a bracelet with that on. God's view of "the coolest kid in town" is different to that of the world's. So let's be the coolest kid in town, in God's eyes!

On another topic, on the query in the last post about the Iceland volcano, that's in the comments on said post. And the funny story about that, for you people not in this area, there was a group of scientists from somewhere in the UK stranded in Norway and they got on a ship headed for Orkney. But they are now stranded in Orkney as the regular boat for here passed them headed for Norway!

And finally please pray for Chrissie - go over to All Are Precious In His Sight for details.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Life is just too short

Just last night my auntie phoned to say one of her colleagues had died suddenly. I had known the family a little, my sister was friendly with the daughter so we have met them quite a bit. There was just the one child, so she has been left with just a dad.

When you hear something like that, I think sadness and emotion takes over. Then, pray pray pray. Something that gets me there is I don't think the family were Christians, so when it comes to the question of heaven or hell, I really don't know and it's quite doubtful. So when you consider that, it's hard to know what to think.

It finally ocurred to me that maybe God intended this as a wake-up call that life is too short. Maybe we need to reach out to the rest of the community more, help more people get to know God. I find doing that quite difficult, so then it was "How do we do that without making a fool of ourselves?" In Me by Casting Crowns helps a bit on that. "I'll go but I cannot go alone, cause I know I'm nothing on my own. But the power of Christ in me makes me strong ... Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability".

I was thinking about other deaths I've known, thinking how this affected me differently. I think only once before have I known someone personally die. But certainly never anyone young, or fairly young, anyway. And it certainly wasn't expected- maybe if you know it's likely to happen, then it can be easier to deal with, I don't know. And lastly, I've never known anyone die who I've had any doubt about whether they were saved or not. That's the hardest, when you're brought up to know that hell is a reality (a solemn thing, as our preacher would say). Recently I've been trying to focus on the positive things about Christianity, rather than the negatives. But there are times when you realise it's necessary to think about it sometimes.

About five years ago at a church service, Arthur Pollard said "my name's written in the book of life and someday I'll be there in heaven". He was there just two years later. So ... death comes sooner than you think. When you hear news like this, nothing else seems important anymore. All throughout the day I'd been making a mental list of people needing prayers, as there were quite a few, but unfortunately something big like this completely takes over and well, everyone else was kinda sidelined.

I never know how to finish posts, so all I can say now is to anyone not saved reading this, please think about it, and those who are, maybe it's time to reach out to people more. I hope to try to do that myself.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Smaller than a bowl of flour

So today I was making bread and when I weighed out the flour, I realised something. With all these blogs I've followed over the last year and a half, I've seen a lot of tiny premature babies on them. And I mean tiny. It hit me today that that flour's weight was 1lb 4oz and there have been many babies born smaller than that. It seems crazy with that small bowl of flour in your hands to think there could be a living thing smaller than that.

On that theme, I recently bought a Green Beans wristband, seen in top picture. And on that thought ... sadly, small babies don't always survive. Until that happened with these people last year, I didn't really know, as in really know, the reality of that. Only God knows why, obviously. Sometimes it's obvious what He's doing, sometimes it isn't. And we can only accept that.

The other two in the picture are WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) and Shine Like Stars. So now that these two are in my mind, let's have some scriptures about them, which don't really have anything to do with the above topic, but I feel like writing them, so here goes.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe". Philippians 2: 14-15, NIV

That first part, Do everything without complaining or arguing, is very clear and to the point, but yet one of the hardest things to follow that the Bible says. I'm sure I'm not alone on that thought. How often we complain or argue, myself included, I don't know. And when you think, what would Jesus do, I have a feeling He wouldn't argue. When someone offends you, it is so easy to yell at them, particularly if they do so themselves. But the best thing there is Jesus understands:

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. " Psalm 103:8

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Beauty Will Rise

This week I've heard about a lot of people in this area being ill or depressed or something. One person I know even said this week that life wasn't worth living anymore. I hate to hear people say things like that obviously.

Also I've been reading Hidden by Cathy Glass and although it's hooking, parts of the story are quite shocking. And it's based on a true story. It's written by a foster carer and a child comes to her who has nothing with him and appears to have no records of even existing. His mother was a "drink-and-drugs" type. His past comes out and he had worked in a factory for long hours with little pay, kinda like the workhouses about a hundred years ago or so. But this was in this country. He had fallen asleep while working on a machine and had quite a wound, which of course wasn't treated as he wasn't registered with a doctor.

All through the story, however, the boy was positive he would meet his father again. Social Services couldn't find the man since he didn't know the address, but as the boy was on the Social Services records, his father did find him. All through the book he had been told it was unlikely he would meet his father, that it was probably impossible, yet he held out hope and it happened.

I found a song recently by Steven Curtis Chapman, called Beauty Will Rise. Obviously I know the story behind this album, about the death of his five-year-old adopted daughter when she was hit by a car driven by her older brother. But in this song it says out of these ashes, beauty will rise. "If you won't believe, I will believe for you" ... just like the boy in the book.

actually all the songs on this album are well worth a listen ...

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Just felt the need to post ...

These pictures are of the view from my house over Christmas. While most of the country, and even the county, were covered in snow, we had none yet had a clear view of the snow-covered Hoy hills across the sea. Is that a good thing or not, I'm not sure. But it makes an interesting contrast anyway.

These past few days the biggest topic on Blogger is, quite predictably, the earthquake in Haiti. I saw it on the news again last night, and the news reporter said that even with outside help, it will take a long time to recover from this. Years, probably. So the question is, what do we do? I don't know. But I know someone who does, God does and He has great plans for them. So keep on praying for them and I know He can do miracles. In fact, He already has in some ways. It was reported on the news last night that there was a survivor found in the rubble after a week, when hope was fading. Check out the latest post on Smith Soup for some encouragement to do something.

And one last thing: the end of this month, January 30th, marks one year since little Tuesday Whitt went to be with Jesus in heaven. I didn't really know the family well, either in real life or online. However, I have been following Who Says 8 Is Enough? for quite a while and it is plain to see the effect she had on this family. To know a child die from cancer is something I never have done and certainly don't want to, but it's at times like these when you see how God has clearly worked His plans: by taking one little girl home to Him, He has ensured more souls have returned to Him spiritually. From now until the 30th, Debi on Who Says 8 Is Enough? is donating $1 for every comment left on her blog to peadiatric cancer research, so do visit and drop a comment or two.