Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My Poppa - A Tribute

My Poppa passed away last week at 98. This is a tribute I wrote to honour him. I hope the wise lessons he taught me, can be a blessing to you.

I know what my grandfather’s Bible looks like. Considering I’ve lived in QLd and he in NSW since I was 4 years old, I think that is significant. 
How do I know? 
Because I have a strong memory of him reading it often. It was always sitting on the breakfast table near his bowl of salted, oatmeal porridge, ready for his morning reading and prayer time. 
It was always there when I visited and it was always there when he visited us. 

My Poppa personified 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”. 

He lived it. 
He let it pervade every aspect of his life.

One day in my thirties, I challenged him on a topic. 
Proudly I sprouted my foolish, modern, feministic view on life. Poppa was sitting at our family’s kitchen table in Bald Hills, QLD. 
He told me my view wasn’t Biblical. 
I scoffed. 
He explained truths. 
I still remember that conversation clearly. 
He knew how to defend the word of God. 
He knew what it said. 
It changed me.

Another day, whilst visiting in Gosford, Poppa and I went for a walk to buy stamps at the post office. 
Although just a few meters up the road from their villa, this was no quick jaunt. 
First he took time to greet the older man in the street and hear his news. 
Next he spent time cheering up the miserable post office lady with one of his many jokes - 
Then on the way back, he chatted for several minutes to another man about the LORD and I haven’t even mentioned yet all the other people along the way that he cheered by smiling, waving or nodding to. 
Every one seemed to know him or be known by him in some little way. 

If you know my Poppa, you know what I am saying is true. 

He cared about others. 

He took time to talk and listen to their needs. 
He put others before himself. 
He definitely loved his neighbor. 
He definitely loved Jesus.

I heard someone once say Poppa talked too much. 
But they simply didn’t understand. 
They didn’t understand the joy you can bring to a stranger’s life by simply being kind, listening to them and taking the time to chat and cheer them up. 

Over the years I watched him many times. 
I know all the marvelous good he did. 
I’m learning to be like him. 
To share the LORD and his love with strangers. 
Poppa learned it from Jesus. 
From sitting daily at His feet.

My Poppa may no longer be on this earth but I ask that you continue his legacy. 

Soak yourself in the Word of God daily. 
Pray often. 
Talk to strangers and share God’s love, joy and peace with them. 
Cheer them with jokes. 
Smile and wave at them. 
Let them know that they are cared for by God.

There is so much I could remember Poppa for, but this is what I choose to remember him for the most.

Love your granddaughter, Sharon.

Monday, 18 July 2016

A World Without Artists

As a mother who homeschools her children, I take full responsibility for what subjects my children are educated in. We all know reading, writing and arithmetic are the core basics, but is that all education is really about? What other subjects should be included? Most would agree there needs to be science and possibly music. But what about art?

What if no one taught art?
What if no one aspired to become an artist?
What if we stopped valuing art?
What would happen?

Do we really want a world where there are no artists?
No Michelangelo,
No Monet,
No Picasso
No Van Gogh,
No Rembrandt?

A world without colour?
A world without creativity.

What if we stopped inspiring our children to become artists?

I had to face these questions early on in my homeschooling 'career'. I have to admit, it stopped me in my tracks for a few days. Pondering this....Why does our society put a heavier emphasis on our children growing up to become doctors and lawyers and nurses and accountant and builders and plumbers.
Or was it just me, in my thinking.
I wasn't created to be an artist....BUT, was I trying to mould them where they weren't designed to go?

What if my child was created by God to be an artist?
What if I raised them to think that was unimportant for society? It wasn't a 'real' career?
What if I crushed their spirit in doing so?
What if I deemed it 'not good enough'?
What if I shamed something that was not shame worthy?

I know that not all careers are moral.
But if the choice of career is moral.....

I really needed time to ponder this.
I needed time to breathe.
It seemed to me an important question.
I needed to know the truth.
So I turned to God's word for answers.

In Exodus 31 I found a lot of answers.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "See I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts - to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut stones and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship....Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I commanded you.....They are to make them just as I commanded. (1-11).
The artists were

  • Chosen by God (v2)
  • Filled with the Spirit of God to be artistic (v3)
  • Appointed by God for this purpose (v6)
  • Given skill and knowledge and ability by God to be artistic (v3,6)
  • He commanded them to do this.  (6,11)
  • They were being obedient to God when they were being artistic.(v6,11) 
There was no use in these artists trying to be farmers or builders when they were skilled and gifted by God to be artists.  They would only fail because they were not doing what they were created to do. What they were specifically designed to do. You can't clean carpet with a paint brush. It doesn't matter how good the paint brush is, it won't do do the job properly because it wasn't designed for that purpose. And so it is with mankind.

There is such a huge lesson here for us Mums (and Dads). 

Each of us. Each of our children were created and designed by God for a purpose before they were even born.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)
If as parents we reject who God created our children to be, then we will find ourselves fighting against God himself. That's never going to be a win!

I look at myself. A woman who has a passion for all things to do with health and healing. I breathe on this stuff. It's who I am. It is who I was designed by God to be. I know this with every fibre of my being. Even if you tried to keep me from it, I would find a way to learn about this and share it with others.

What if my child is passionate like this about art? What if it is what makes him get up in the morning and want to breathe. What if he thrives on this. Don't I then need to nurture that to help it flourish?  Is that not my role as a loving mother?

I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 12, where we are told that all of us have a role to play in the body of Christ. Each of us are appointed for a purpose to contribute to society and our communities. We are warned not to reject some roles as unimportant. God, write this on my heart, I pray. Scar it in, so that it never leaves.

And so I find myself learning, ever so slowly to value all of God's creation. Motherhood is a wonderful school for me. So is homeschooling my children. I am slowly learning to think outside the square of my own little world and see the world through the eyes of others. I am pretty sure I have a gifted artist in the making. He is completely happy spending hours designing and drawing. Refining his craft. It's what makes him tick.

And so my prayer is this...
God help me inspire my children to be who you chose and appointed them to be. Help them find their place in this world. Fill them with your Spirit so that they may do all the good you prepared for them to do.And never let me stop valuing what you called good.

Support Gifted Christian Artists:

Monday, 20 June 2016

On Keeping Quiet

As Mothers we often ask our children to settle themselves down and keep quiet. We tell them, they are too noisy or are talking too much. We expect them to learn to show restraint, and respect other's needs for quietness from time to time.

It is no easy task.
There is a time and a place for quietness and solitude, for a reserved nature.
But not always.

Likewise there is a time and a place for excitement and joy and passion. Try keeping your husband quiet when his favourite football team has just scored the winning goal. In our house, you can usually tell how the game is going from the other end of the house!

Try telling your children at a party to stay quiet. It would be a ridiculous requirement. The circumstances demand noise, and joy and passion. It's a celebration! To rebuke children when they are appropriately excited about an event, would be wrong.

Our spiritual walk with God is much the same way. There are times when we need to be quiet and reserved and respect other's need for silence. There are also times when our passion for God demands, that we are anything BUT quiet and no one should rebuke us. Our joy is overflowing and to remain quiet is simply impossible.

Take the crowd of disciples on the way down the Mount of Olives, just before Jesus' triumphal entry in Jerusalem.

The whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
Some of the pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!"
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Luke 19:37-40

Or in Acts when Peter and John were rebuked by the 'spiritual leaders' at the Sanhedrin.
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, 
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:18-20
Jeremiah has the same problem - he can't help but speak boldly in God's name. He can't help himself  from praising God publicly, though it brings him much difficulty in life.
"So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, 'I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot." Jeremiah 20:8,9

King David too knew what it meant to be filled with joy overflowing, in celebration praise to God.  His wife despised him for it. The LORD rebuked her and she remained infertile.
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts an the sounds of trumpets. ( see 2 Sam 6:14-23)

Many know the God of quietness and reservation. But do you know the One who brings a JOY so great, that you can not help but publicly praise his name? Does your soul demand to cry out praise and worship though others rebuke you?

My prayer is that you come to know and experience both. The God who speaks to us as a still voice, in the quiet whisper. But also, the God who fills us with a JOY so great, none can keep us quiet - and nor should they! For there is a holy time to shout!

Shout for JOY to the LORD, all the earth...
Let the sea resound and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for JOY! 
Psalm 98

Monday, 13 June 2016

When the Waters Roar and Foam

Are the waters ahead roaring and foaming?
Is every fibre of your being screaming danger?
Are fear and anxiety trying to gain a foothold?

Do you know the LORD God as your refuge?
Have you fed on his wisdom for dangerous waters?

Look for the Warning Lighthouse.

God warns the righteous of upcoming trouble so that they can take refuge and remain safe. There are some waters, that the LORD God does not intend for us to go through. They are simply not safe. He always sends a warning. He always provides a lighthouse.  Keep watch for the warning lighthouse.
Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared. Prov 3:25, 26.
Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence. Prov 3:31,32.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Ps 112:4
Examples in Scripture:

  • Joseph was warned in dreams to flee from approaching danger. "When they had gone, an angel of the LORD appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up', he said, 'take the child [Jesus] and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. "Matt 2:13-15. "Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee." Matt 2:22
  • The Magi were warned in a dream of Herod's evil intention. "And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." Matt 2:12
  • Pilate's wife was warned to have nothing to do with Jesus' crucifixion. "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him." Matt 27:19

Take Refuge. Avoid Dangerous Waters.
When you see the warning lighthouse, take refuge. Don't be a fool and keep sailing into dangerous territory.
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Prov 27:12
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Prov 22:3
When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding. Prov 28:12
When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive. Prov 28:28
Examples in Scripture:

  • In 1 Kings 18:13 we read of Obadiah hiding the LORD's prophets from the wicked King Ahab who was actively seeking to kill them. According to the NIV text notes on this passage - "Communities of prophets had sprung up in Israel during a time of apostasy."  The text note later says that these "companies of prophets were apparently religious communities that sprang up in the face of general indifference and apostasy for the purpose of mutual edification and the cultivation of the experience of God."
  • In Exodus 1 and 2, we read of the midwives helping the Israelite women to hide and protect their children from the wicked rulers. "The midwives however feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live." Ex 1:17  The Bible records that the LORD God blessed the midwives for their actions of valour and righteousness.
  • Joash, a child who was heir to the throne, was hidden for 6 years from a wicked queen who  was intent on murdering all in the royal line (2 Chron 22:11).
  • "By faith, Moses parents hid him for 3 months after he was born because they saw he was no ordinary child and they were not afraid of the King's edict." Heb 11:23
Enjoy Safe Haven
The LORD rewards the righteous who heed his wisdom to take refuge with a safe haven. In safety he enables them to flourish and thrive.
My son, preserve sound judgement, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; when you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep shall be sweet. Prov 3:21-24
But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. Prov 1:33
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Isaiah 33:17,18
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land, the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house and his righteousness endures forever.....He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear, in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. Psalm 112. 
Have you found your safe haven? Have you let the LORD gently lead you to safety?
Take my advice, do not let fear paralyse you and keep you from taking refuge when dangerous waters approach. Learn that the LORD God, the lover of your soul, wants his children to be safe. Keep watch for the warnings and trust your Heavenly Father to keep you safe.


Monday, 6 June 2016

Are you in the right boat?

Is your life full of stormy weather?
Maybe it's because you're in the wrong boat.

You see, there are two types of boats in life. 

Boats that are heading in the right direction 
Boats that are heading in the wrong direction.

Both boats can experience calm sailing. 
Both boats can encounter stormy seas.

Both boats come in all shapes and sizes.

It's the direction of the voyage that makes all the difference. 

Is it right or is it wrong?

But how do you discern which boat you are in?
How do you know when to abandon ship?
How do you know when to change boats?
And WHO is choosing which boat we are in anyway?

It seems to me, the answer to these questions could be vitally important if we are to navigate successfully through life and journey to the right destination. No one wants to get to the end of their life to discover they had fought hard to overcome the worst of life's hurricanes, only to end up at the wrong destination. Nothing could be more demoralising.

Maybe the first question should really be, what is the right destination? For if we don't know that...well everything else is really quite pointless.

3 Clues You're in the Wrong Boat.

1. Are you running away from God's expressed wish to you? Three times we are told that Jonah "ran away from God", after God revealed his will to him. God had commanded Jonah to go and boldly call the people of Nineveh to repent. Jonah deliberately disobeyed and jumped on a boat headed in the opposite direction. It was a deliberate choice of disobedience.  He didn't like what God had to offer. He didn't call it good. He didn't call it pure.

2. Is your storm a result of God disciplining you? You may already know the answer to that. If not, just genuinely ask Him. In my experience, if every time I open the Word of God, the LORD God is telling me he is disciplining me, then that is a clear sign, I am doing something wrong. In Jonah's case, he knew without asking the LORD. A storm of discipline only comes when we are in the wrong boat.
"I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you." Jonah 1:12

3. You need to abandon ship if you are to obey God. Sometimes the only solution in an enormous storm is to abandon ship and throw yourself on the mercy of God. When faced with a sinking ship in a storm of discipline, Jonah threw himself on the mercy of God and asked to be thrown into the stormy sea.
"Pick me up and throw me into the sea" He replied, "and it will become calm."Jonah 1:12
His intention? Jonah believed it would be better to lose his life, than to try going on living in a boat sailing further into disobedience. In Jonah chapter 2 we read of Jonah's prayer of repentance to the LORD as he sunk deeper and deeper into the ocean. His longing for God and obedience to God was greater than his longing for life itself.

Is this how you feel towards God?
Would your life be worthless if it was not lived in obedience to the LORD?
"When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" Jonah 2:7,8
Are you clinging to a worthless idol?
That is what disobedience is. An idol in your life.
Oh that you would abandon yourself onto the mercy of God and value your life as worth nothing without God.
Jesus said "If anyone would come after  me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Of what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Matt 16:24-26
Paul put it this way. "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Phil 3:7-9 

My Story of the Deep.

When the LORD God asked me to wean myself off using pharmaceuticals to manage my allergies and Hashimoto's Disease, I thought I would die. I didn't know then that they were hurting me, with all their side effects. I didn't know then that there would be a better alternative for my body, using natural medicines. All I could see at the time was my own wall of fear. My own idol of terror.

At that time, I knew that to obey God, I too would have to overcome the same storm that Jonah did. If I was to obey, I would need to decide that living in obedience to what Christ was calling me to do, was worth far more to me, than continuing my journey deeper into disobedience.  I literally felt that I was like Jonah; utterly dependent on my God for mercy.

And he gave me mercy. For many years now, I have not used any pharmaceuticals and have relied on natural medicine. Slowly but surely my allergies dissipated. Slowly but surely my Hashimoto's Disease healed, as I walked in obedience to his word. The LORD had had a better plan for my body.  I needed to overcome my own fear and terror and trust him. I needed to change boats. I needed to call His boat - good.

I do not know what the LORD God will ask you to do. But let me say one thing. Pray and seek Him earnestly. Soak yourself day and night in his Word, the Bible. Beg Him to teach you and equip you to obey; and He will.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Anger Management in the Home

If you are a normal household, which I am assuming we all are, there will, at times, be periods where there is anger in the home.

But what wisdom does the Bible and Christianity have to offer about anger?  
Is it wrong to become angry? 
Is it ever okay?
What is God's anger like? 
How do we manage anger within the home? 

These are the questions I would like to answer, because I believe that if we can get our anger management right, then we can, often times, avoid a full blown civil war within our homes and restore a well-balanced peace.

What is God's anger like?

  • The LORD God, Yahweh has a very, very, very long fuse. He is slow to become angry. He is long-suffering and patient.
"You are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." Neh 9:17 (see also Ex 34:6; Ps 103:8; Na 1:3; Ps 86:15; Jonah 4:2)
  • His anger lasts only a moment. It is short lived. It doesn't rage on and on, seething in vileness.
"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime." Ps 30:5
  • It is controlled.
 "Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath." Ps 78:38
  • It is pure and just and undefiled.

We are told to be like Him.

How do I manage my own anger?

  • We are not to curse, swear  or use bad language when we are angry.
"But you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips." Col 3:8 (see also Eph 5:4,5; Eph 4:29)
  • We are not to sin in our anger e.g. murder, steal, slander, destroy, commit adultery. 
"In your anger do not sin." Eph 4:26
  • We are not to let our anger last a long time. 
"Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold." Eph 4:27
  • We are not to be easily angered.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, is is not easily angered..." 1 Cor 13:4,5 
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." James 1:19
"A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated." Prov 14:17 
(See also Prov 14:29; Prov 15:18; Prov 16:32; Prov 19:11; Prov 25;15; Ecc 7:9)
  • We are not to give full vent to our anger or lose control.
"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." Prov 29:11 
"A wise man fears the LORD and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless." Prov 14:16 

How do I manager other people's anger?

  • Stay away from angry people. Don't be friends or associates with easily angered people or their bad habits will rub off onto you. You become like those you hang around with. 
"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared." Prov 22:24
  • Respond to their hot-tempered, angry behaviour with patience, calmness and gentleness.
"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Prov 25:15
"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Prov 15:1 
"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." Prov 15:18 
"If a ruler's anger rises up against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great errors to rest." Ecc 10:4 

Other Practical Suggestions:

  • Solitude - Tired, angry and cranky children or parents need space, rest and sleep. Ensure that each person of the household routinely has time alone to themselves to chill out and restore their soul. When our children were younger we gave them a daily 'time out' after lunch for quiet play, alone in their room. This also works for older children and mums and dads. As a homeschool mum, I like to take about 30 minutes after lunch to myself, alone in my bedroom. I have learned I need that time, to restore myself, before the afternoon rush.

  • Illness/Diet -Habitual anger can be the result of illness or an unbalanced diet. Angry mood swings can be linked to blood sugar levels, thyroid problems, liver problems, spleen problems, worms/ parasites or simply not enough vegetables.  It is worth chatting to your preferred medical practitioner.

  • Essential Oils - we have successfully used essential oils to bring calmness and patience to members of our household time and time again.  Essential Oils like chamomile, bergamot, frankincense, lavender, myrtle, petitgrain and ylang ylang have all historically been used to minimise anger. Of course, which oil you use and the degree to which you find relief, will be completely dependant on each individual person's needs and situation.
    Life Oils Essential Oils - 100% Organic

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Morality without Jesus

What if all we ever did was preach morality?
What if all we ever did was educate people about what was right and wrong?
What if all we ever said promoted good over evil?
What if we did all this, but left out Jesus?

Would it still be TRUTH?
Would it have any AUTHORITY?
Would it have any POWER to change lives?
Would it not just be moral relativism?

How can you preach morality yet not acknowledge the AUTHOR of the moral code?
How can you educate people about right and wrong yet forget CREATOR of mankind?
How can you describe good and evil yet ignore the VICTOR who ultimately overcame evil?
How can you forget Jesus, when without the death and resurrection 
there is NO forgiveness of sins and No salvation?

In our passion, in our quest, in our zeal to reform society, and rid it of moral uncleanness, be it abortion, rape, incest, pedophilia, slavery, sexual immorality, torture or murder let us not forget Jesus Christ. It is He who first tied up the strongman so that we might have victory and life. Without Him we are nothing! Our victory is found only in Jesus, at the cross. People are always leaving out Jesus. 

So, when you write, when you speak, when you pray against these evils, BOLDLY speak in the name of Jesus. For without Him we have no authority to speak at all. 

"Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross." Dietrich Bonhoeffer