Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday's lighter note

One of my students came into my class looking quite upset, so I asked her what was wrong. "My driver education teacher yelled at me!" she said, on the verge of tears.
"What did he say?" I asked.
"Stay on the road, Janet! Stay on the road!"

- Cynthia Beavers (Readers Digest)

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Devotional thought : Luke 2:34-35

"Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ' … And a sword will pierce your own soul too.'" Luke 2:34-35

Midst the excitement of that first Christmas with angels appearing and shepherds praising God, we find a prophesy of future pain. "A sword will pierce your own soul." Yet this had not stopped the angel telling Mary, "You have found favour with God" nor from the angels telling the shepherds, "I bring you good news of great joy."

It would seem that although God is beyond time and able to see past, present and future events simultaneously, He is also able to focus on a moment in our time and celebrate its significance. It is something we need to do to especially at Christmas. There is much suffering and difficulty not only in our world but in our own community. Yet Christmas is a time to rejoice and celebrate Jesus' coming into the world.

Rejoicing people are generous people. Their joy enables them to give and bless others. God, in sending Jesus, has given us the "indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15) which tells us that God, overflowing with joy, has given us a gift beyond description. God did not send Jesus because He was under an obligation to send a Saviour. Or that He was under pressure to solve the sin problem. God is Sovereign and free to do as He pleases. In choosing to shower us with such a blessing it shows us that God's heart is full of love and joy.

In the parable of the prodigal son it is recorded that the father said to his eldest son, "But we had to celebrate and be glad." Christmas is such a time when we have to celebrate and be glad.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who pass by here.

God made the trip from heaven to earth because He thought you were worth it.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday's lighter note

When I select rockmelons, I always squeeze, smell and tap. Once I noticed a young man observing me in action. When I finally selected my melon, he said to me, "Excuse me, do you have a second choice?"

- Irene Green (Reader's Digest)

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Unromantic JAG

I watched the final episode of JAG last night (I don't know why it took soooo long to get to Australia). I used to watch JAG every week when my daughter lived at home but then it got longer and longer between series and I lost interest. Nevertheless at one time I really enjoyed the show so I wanted to see the final episode. Unfortunately I found it to be disappointingly unromantic!

Harm eventually proposes to Mac but then neither of them willingly sacrifices their new job opportunity in order to be with the other. Don't the JAG writers know that romantic love is about sacrifice? Now if Harm and Mac had had a big argument because both of them wanted to give up their new jobs in order to be with the other, that would have been romantic and then it would have been okay to finish the show with a toss of the coin. But as it was, who cares?

It reminds me that the gospel is the greatest, most romantic love story of all because the Bridegroom sacrificed His life for His bride.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Book review : He Has Made Me Glad

Ben Patterson brings out many good insights in his book, He Has Made Me Glad (InterVarsity Press, 2005). Our joy is dependant on the amount of gratitude we feel towards God. Far too often we take God for granted and overlook the enormity of what He had done for us. Patterson writes to correct this thinking and fills his book with Scriptures, his life experiences and stories that confirm his ideas. I particularly like the way he describes God as, "The Happy God". It is not an image we are overly familiar with yet there is much Scripture that verifies this thought.

Still it is easy to know why we should be grateful yet more difficult to put it into practice. I would have like more practical suggestions to make thankfulness an integral part of my daily life.

Nevertheless I did enjoy Patterson's book and the reminder it was to remember with thanks what God has done in the past and to look ahead joyfully to what God is planning in the future. I felt challenged to make a habit of being more thankful and therefore more joyful.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Devotional thought : Matthew 2:1-5

Sometimes I read articles and think, "Wow!" I've never thought of that. This was one of those occasions.

"Only a Rumor" by Soren Kierkegaard.

"… Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.' When King Herod heard this he was disturbed … When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 'In Bethlehem in Judea' they replied." Matthew 2:1-5

Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved heaven and earth leaves us completely unmoved.

What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?

What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem! We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain still. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.

Reprinted from Copyright 2002 by the Bruderhof Foundation, Inc. Used with permission.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday's lighter note

A colleague had recently moved to a house and was still redecorating, much to the chagrin of his teenage daughter. When told she would be getting new wallpapaer, wardrobe and curtains, but would have to wait for the carpet to be laid, she retorted, "Does that mean I will have to walk around on bare floorboards?"

"No dear," her mother said, "You can walk on your clothes like you usually do."

- David Gipson (Readers Digest)

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Book review : Inside my heart

Inside my heart : choosing to live with passion and purpose by Robin McGraw (Nelson Books, 2006)

Robin McGraw is the wife of Dr Phil, the well known television personality. The book is largely autobiographic though not a chronological account of her life. Robin uses her life experiences to explain her outlook on life. I found her approach to life to be quite confrontational. She seems very sure of herself and her opinions and is more than happy to tell you exactly what's on her mind. This can be a good quality as she encourages woman to be more assertive and challenges them to make choices that will help them to grow into the person they were meant to be. Yet it can also be a bit overpowering and intimidating. Robin doesn't allow for different personalities and her way of handling struggles and difficulties would not necessarily work well for all women. Her faith in God seems genuinely yet she rarely mentions asking God for wisdom or guidance in her decision making.

Still her book makes for interesting reading. I enjoyed reading her life stories and the different twists and turns that her life has taken.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Devotional thought : Philemon 15

I read this verse in Philemon the other day and began thinking that maybe it had larger ramifications than it seemed.

"Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother." Philemon 15-16

In this verse Paul is referring to Onesimus who had been Philemon's slave. (He had run away to Rome, met Paul and subsequently became a Christian.)

One of the age old theological questions is why did God allow sin to enter His perfect world? In allowing sin to enter the world it separated people from God. Yet in God's economy of time, only "for a little while," because God had a plan to restore the relationship. Not only to restore it but to make it better. No longer slaves but brothers. "I no longer call you slaves, for a master doesn't confide in his slaves; now you are My friends, proved by the fact that I have told you everything the Father told Me." (John 15:15 LB)

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve knew God's holiness and justice. But 'perfect' justice meant that Adam and Eve lived under a death threat. One bad choice, with no second chances, meant instant spiritual death and eventually physical death. Perhaps there was also something slave-like about Adam and Eve's relationship with God. God could not confide in Adam and Eve the way He wanted because Adam and Eve could not have known the depths of God's compassion, mercy and grace while they lived in this state of perfection.

God wants relationships with His people like that of dear brothers and not like that of slaves and He will go to extraordinary lengthens to achieve it. Even allowing sin and suffering to disappoint our expectations of Him.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday's lighter note

"My husband and I were watching a romantic scene on TV showing a man and woman reminiscing about the day of the week they first met, had their first kiss and he proposed. 'What day is today?' my husband suddenly asked.

Thinking he was remembering our special days, I said, 'Why do you ask?'

'I was just wondering,' he replied, 'if tonight is garbage night.'"

- Jacqueline Shaw (Reader's Digest)

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Good Year

After seeing the movie, A Good Year, (which has only just been released in Australia) I wanted to read the book of the same name by Peter Mayle (Random House, 2004). There were some nice touches in the movie and I wanted to know if they were in the book. I was disappointed to discover they were not.

I must be one of those rare people that often prefers the film over the book which is surprising since I'm such a book lover. However the truth is I read mostly non-fiction and find the descriptive passages in fiction books quite boring. So I have to say I preferred the film version of A Good Year to the book it is based on.

The book begins with the rather large coincidence that Max Skinner loses his job the same day he receives a letter in the mail telling him he has inherited his Uncle Henry's property in the south of France. The film is much more realistic in that he is visiting the property when he receives news he has been suspended from his job.

In the film there are a lot of flashbacks to Max Skinner's (played by Russell Crowe) childhood. These give a great insight into Uncle Henry's character and also to some of the influences that shaped Max's life. Unfortunately these were completely absence in the book.

In both the book and the film Max has to make the decision of whether to return to London or live on his uncle's property. Again I think this is handled better in the film because it creates tension between two viable options. In the book it is really a non decision because he has no job to return to.

I also enjoyed the humour and romantic touches that had been added to the film.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Devotional thought : 1 Peter 1:8

Do you think that we sometimes hold onto a wrong concept of God in order to justifiy our behaviour?

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." 1 Peter 1:8

In the latest edition of Every Day With Jesus Selwyn Hughes writes on the theme "Surprised by God." One of the surprises he discusses is when people become Christians they are surprised to be filled with joy. Hughes then looks at the reasons for their surprise. One of his most interesting conclusions was this: "To hold on to the concept of God as a killjoy makes it easier to justify our unwillingness to surrender to His claims."

As I have grown in my Christian walk I have noticed a certain comfort in holding onto wrong concepts of God. For example, if we enjoy our work, it is easy to see God as a slave driver. If we like to push the boundaries of God's standards for our behaviour, it is easy to see God as indolent Santa Claus figure. If we can't cope with the mysteriousness of God, it is easy to invent our own reasons for God's ways rather than embrace the unknown.

Jamie Buckingham wrote a book called, "The Truth Will Set You Free, but First It Will Make You Miserable." Letting go of our wrong concepts may make us feel miserable, or at least uncomfortable, but in the end it is truth that will set us free. God will not conform to our misconceptions of Him. We need to grow in our understanding and see God as He is truly portrayed in his Word. When we acknowledge God as He is, full of compassion and grace with our best interests at heart, it then becomes a little easier to surrender to His claims.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday's lighter note

I was listening to the cricket today when one of the commentators was talking about how he had met a regular listener to the cricket. Apparently on meeting him she said, "You are so much taller than you sound."

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