Friday, December 21, 2012

Something special for Christmas

Christmas greetings to any who read this. I asked my niece and nephews yesterday to act out and then tell me about the Nativity story. Enjoy what they came up with and have a special Christmas this year.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Sculptor

I had the privilege of being introduced to a world-renowned sculptor some time ago. He took time out of his day to show a few of us his workshop and some projects.

One of his pieces is a fascinating depiction of a Maori couple, pictured. As he walked us around it, explaining the subtleties, intricacies and story woven in his work, a tourist approached us. With non-existent English, she motioned for us to please take her photo standing by the sculpture.

I motioned to the sculpture, then to him, then to the sculpture again, miming as best as I could that 'He made it! He is the artist!'

After a few unsuccessful tries, I gave up. That woman now has, as a part of the visual record of her time in New Zealand, a photo of me standing with her in front of the sculpture - taken by its maker! She still has no idea.

How much are we like that with the Sculptor? Asking Him to take our photos while we stand glibly in front of His work, having no idea of the richness of experience He is willing to draw us into, if only we allowed Him to. Thought for the day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

As a child

A year ago, I returned from 8 years in international missions, then helping my parents set up a travel business, back to my original profession as a primary school teacher.

I love it. One of my favourite things is daily experiencing life through the eyes of the 24 eight year olds I teach.

Jesus didn't ask us to come to Him 'as a child' for no reason.

Children giggle.
They find fun in almost anything.
They are easily 'wowed'.
They wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Life is an adventure for children. They are excited to be a part of it and honest about how they experience it.

Maybe best of all, they worship exceptionally well. I don't teach in a Christian setting at all, so I'm not talking about singing - (though you should hear my class sing. Polynesian kids seem to have an inbuilt musicality, so they know how to belt out a good tune!) But what I mean is that children are experts at giving God the credit He is due.

I took my class with others to a farm a few weeks ago. We have been studying cows and wanted to see them up close. As our bus crested a hill leading up to the farm, they saw them. Three cows standing, chewing quietly in a paddock. The bus erupted in delight. The children, most of whom had never seen a cow before in their lives, squealed, shrieked, cheered and gasped in wonder. A cacophony of pure admiration for something God had made.

This continued through the day. "Look at her big, brown eyes! WOW!" "Taste the butter we just made - AWESOME!" "Feel the pig's rough skin! SO COOL!"

Children worship exceptionally well. Like my class, may I grow and maintain a child-like awe and sense of wonder about everything around me. May I become an expert at giving God the credit He is due.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It's been a while since I've posted, not because I haven't wanted to, but because I only want to post when I feel I have something worthwhile to share. And there are too many half-thoughts without resolution brewing to post, so while I let them simmer a bit longer, here is a video my attention was just drawn to that I love. What do you think? Does it make you laugh or sigh, or like me, both?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Unforgiving Debtor

It's a well-known parable. I grew up with it.

This guy owes a huge amount to a king but begs for mercy and is forgiven. He, in turn, refuses to do the same with someone else who owes him a comparatively insignificant amount. So the king throws him in jail after all.

I was reading this parable this morning and the last verse struck me.
"That's what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters* from your heart." - Matthew 18:35 (NLT)
Of course this parable is about forgiveness.
But for some reason I'd always read it more in light of 'do to others as you'd have them do to you' - ok, I won't demand someone to give me a few dollars if I've not had to pay my debt to someone else - that kind of thinking.

But to forgive from the heart? That brings it home much more sharply - and painfully!

I have been forgiven much.

Then why do I keep grudges?

Why do I avoid some people because of messy dealings YEARS ago?

Why, when thinking about some people, or even worse, talking about them with others, do I focus on the negative or dwell again and again on things they said or did that I didn't like or agree with?

That's not forgiveness.
That's as idiotic as someone walking away having escaped prison for a huge debt, then shaking down someone else for owing them a few dollars.

We see the stupidity of the actions in the parable. So why do we repeat them every day?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Out of the storm

'Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said...' - Job 38:1

So starts God's response to Job in this timeless book of 'Whys', grappling with suffering.

For the next few chapters He reminds Job of Who He is, what He has done and is capable of doing, through looking at His creative work in the universe.

I've been chewing on Job for the last few weeks with the youth of my church, and on Sunday we will present some of our thoughts to the main congregation in a special service.

Remember Job's life?

He had everything, then he had nothing.

Raiding parties, fire from heaven and a sudden storm from the desert took his livestock, servants and most preciously, his children.
Later he was covered with sores. His wife mocked him and his friends, who had started out so sympathetically, then blamed him for his trouble.

After pleading with God to answer him, to help him understand WHY this was happening, God answered - out of the storm.

A few things struck me about that one verse:

God chose a storm as the context to speak to Job in. He could have spoken to Job in a quiet whisper as with Elijah, (1 Kings 19) but he chose a storm.

Think of the parallels here. Job's been in turmoil - a 'storm', with his suffering. Why doesn't God speak as a balm instead?

Worst of all, Job's children were killed IN A STORM. Yet this is how God chooses to meet Job to answer him.

Nothing in the verse or chapter suggests that God calmed the storm first, then spoke, or that like Jesus in the boat on Lake Galilee, He spoke and the storm was silent. (Mark 4)

No. The storm raged and God spoke out of it.
And He didn't explain why Job was suffering but reminded him in detail that He was God, all powerful and IN CONTROL.

As a Christian, do I expect God to still storms before speaking into my life? Or do I trust that He can speak out of a storm without necessarily stopping it?

Do I listen and learn from Him when He uses the things that hurt me most to show something of His character?

As storms are raging and God is speaking, am I focussing on the wind and waves or looking to Him? (Think of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk to Jesus on water - Matthew 14.)

How do I feel about God speaking out of a storm but not explaining the storm - pointing instead to Himself?

These are timely thoughts for me. May they be a help in some way for you too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Destruction and building - at a bank?

So I've been home now for two months.

At the bank yesterday, I got chatting with the teller as she dealt with my business. After explaining what I had been doing for the last years, she told me that she had a sister in law who worked in an orphanage in Romania.

Then, conspiratorially, she leaned in and told me with a smirk, "She said God told her to go! And every time she sees me, she asks, 'How is your walk with God?'"

I could hear the disdain in her voice. She went on to tell me how she hates 'Bible-bashers'.

I thought of defending the sister in law and missionaries in general, realising that despite what I'd told her about the work I'd been doing before, she never realised I was also 'one of them'!

But something stopped me. I am not ashamed of being a Christian. I want others to know the depth of joy and freedom that come from relationship with God through Christ. But I am not and do not want to be identified as a Bible basher. My first question when I see a non-Christian friend or relative is never going to be 'How is your walk with God?' I want my life to draw people to Christ, not irritate and repulse them.

So I said nothing.

We chatted more about other things and enjoyed each others' company.
When I return to the bank, I will look out for her and we can continue our conversations.

I thought about Jeremiah 1:10 this morning:
'See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.'

In some ways, I see this as a Christian's manifesto as well; certainly as mine.

With Christ in me, I want to uproot and tear down wrong foundations built of God, faith in Him and Christianity. I want to destroy the myths and annoyances that rightly turn people away from following the same faith as the people who annoy them. I want to build and plant the Kingdom of God - the way it is and should be.

The bank is not just for banking now, but for uprooting, tearing down, destroying, overthrowing, building and planting. The right way.