Monday, February 27, 2006

MTC Seminar

Last weekend I went to the Ministry to Children Seminar held at Careforce Church in Mount Evelyn. I have recently started teaching in our children's program and thought I needed all the help I could get! It was an excellent seminar with some great speakers. In two days I heard five talks from the keynote speakers and attended five workshops so it was pretty full on. I came away with lots of ideas and two main points of focus. One, we need to address the different learning styles of the children we are ministering to and secondly we need to take time to build relationships with the children.

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The devil is bluffing

Further to my previous post on "Wondering about my writing ability". I have been given the opportunity to write a devotion as an insert in the church newsletter. So l wrote this for last Sunday which is just a rewrite of my post on "Finding God in Narnia".

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal" 2 Corinthians 4:18.

With the release of the movie there has been a lot of talk about "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" but for me, my favourite Narnia book is "The Silver Chair". In "The Silver Chair" Lewis gives an amazing picture of the devil's subtleties. The witch in the story lives underground and tells the children it was all a dream and there never was such a place as Narnia or such a person as Aslan. The children are on the verge of falling for the witch's lies when Puddlegum deliberately puts his foot in the fire. The pain wakes him up to reality.

Lewis has depicted what Leanne Payne talks about in her book "Listening Prayer" where she says, "Evil has an illusory nature. It attempts to win through bluff." Peter explained that the enemy is like a roaring lion on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8). Lions on the prowl don't roar because they wanted to surprise their victim. The devil roars because he is bluffing.

Often the devil tries to lull us into fixing our eyes on what is seen as if that is all there is rather than following Paul's instruction to fix our eyes on what is unseen. A pastor friend of ours had a heart attack and actually died before being revived. He spent a few fleeting moments aware that he was in the Presence of the Lord. He said it was so beautiful he didn't want to come back. What is unseen is the true reality and sometimes it is pain that wakes us up to it

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Father Heart of God

Floyd McClung wrote this book (Kingsway, 1991) out of his own experiences, ministering to young people through his work with Youth With A Mission.

Many people have a distorted view of God due to poor parenting or other bad experiences from authority figures, particularly in their childhood. McClung seeks to correct these distortions and show how God can heal the damage of these past experiences. About two-thirds through the book, McClung changes the emphasis and spends time discussing the sorts of (fathers and mothers) and spiritual leaders we need to be as we mature as Christians.

I found the book encouraging as it helped me to correct some of my thinking regarding God. It challenged me to grow closer to God and to look to Him first for the answers to my needs. Finally the book taught me some truths about spiritual leadership.

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Friendship

Lately I have been reading, "Listening Prayer" by Leanne Payne. I enjoyed her description of friendship so I thought I would share it here:
"Friendship comes out of having common interests and focusing on the same hobby, truth or beauty. This good "outside the self," so much more exciting when someone else shares our love for it, give us endless food for thought and good conversation. Rather than looking at one another in the hope of gaining affection, companionship, or the affirmation we have somehow lacked in our earlier lives, we look up and out of the self. We take hands together and come into a wonderful unity of thought and spirit as we admire or enjoy a particular thing in common with another."

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Wondering about my writing ability

For the last year I had been writing devotional thoughts for my church newsletter. At the start of this year a new person started as the newsletter editor and indicated that they wanted to use a new format which meant there probably wouldn't be room for my articles. I was naturally disappointed but the thing that is bothering me is that after three Sundays of the new format only one person in a church of about 100 has mentioned the absence of my article. (This actually vindicates the editor's decision to leave it out. After all if no one was reading it there wasn't any point putting it in.)

It leaves me wondering about my writing. Initially I received a lot of positive feed back and I thought my articles were a blessing. But now, in the absence of any feed back, I wondering if what I wrote was too boring, too harsh, too vague, too long, too old-fashioned, too challenging. Just hope I didn't said anything un-Biblical. Perhaps I should have tried to be more encouraging.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Finding God in Narnia

The last of my Christmas reading was, "Finding God in the land of Narnia" by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware. I found it very interesting but you really need to have read all the Narnia books and the authors also refer to some of Lewis' other writings.

The authors pick out various object lessons from the different books whereas I was expecting a more general overall picture. I guess this is because Lewis didn't plan to write an allegory but rather plant various truths in a children's story. The authors have highlighted some of these truths.

My favourite Narnia book is The Silver Chair. Maybe because of all the Narnia's characters I identify with Jill the most. Also I think that in The Silver Chair Lewis gives such an startling picture of the devil's subtles. The witch tells the children it was all a dream and there never was such a place as Narnia or such a person as Aslan. The children are on the verge of falling for the witch's lies when Puddlegum deliberately puts his foot in the fire. The pain wakes him up to reality. Makes me think how often the devil tries to lull us into fixing our eyes on what is seen rather than following Paul's instruction to fix our eyes on what is unseen (2 Corinthians 4:18). Today I read this in "Listening prayer" by Leanne Payne, "Evil has an illusory nature. It attempts to win through bluff."

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ananias and Sapphira

I was reading about Ananias and Sapphira recently (on a blog actually) and it got me thinking about how dependant we are on God's grace.

In Genesis 2:17 we find that God required the death penalty for an act of disobedience and that death was imminent ("surely"). Ezekiel 18:4 reads, "the soul who sins is the one who will die". Yet God didn't mete out justice and give Adam and Eve what they deserved (instant physical and spiritual death) rather He showed them mercy and allow them to live (physically) for a long time. More than that He showed them grace in providing animals' skins for them. But God's mercy cannot be presumed upon, sin still brings the death penalty as Uzzah, Nadab, Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira discovered.

Living this side of the cross we sometimes think we are exempt from the death penalty, which is perhaps where Ananias and Sapphira made their big mistake. (God's people in the OT looked forward to the cross to be justified whereas we look back to the cross.) Nevertheless the wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23). We are so reliant on God's mercy and grace, we don't even take our next breath unless God allows it. Pretty humbling stuff.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Clemo - A Love Story

I have read "Clemo" by Sally Magnusson twice, and both times I was amazed at the way God is able to completely reverse a person's circumstances. God is well able to "repay the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25).

The story is about the life of Jack Clemo, born in 1916, who becomes a poet and an author. The book has a very gloomy beginning as Jack is afflicted with numerous problems including blindness and deafness. Yet he continued to believe that God had purposed for him to marry. We see God move in his circumstances and the end of the book is a beautiful climax.

I most enjoyed reading about Jack's developing understanding of his faith. His frustrations with "tepid Christianity" and his understanding of the "emotional aspect of faith". These facets in particular I found very enlightening.

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