Saturday, 31 March 2012

A Celebratory Tea...

Eleven weeks ago - 11 weeks! - I started an online Bible study of Ephesians.  I asked the 'girls' who come to my house for breakfast once a month if they'd like to join, too. I set up a facebook group for us to post to every day. We started.

It has been brilliant. Not only have we encouraged each other - just knowing that someone else is studying at the same time is motivation enough - but there have been regular blog posts and reflections from Good Morning Girls.  Inspirational to share insights with other women all over the world, too. Now we are nearly finished.  I look back at my comments and realise what a wonderful method of study the SOAP idea is: Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer. So easy. After Easter, when we have finished completely, I hope to go back and crystallize what I have learnt.

And then start over some.

In the meantime, we celebrated with afternoon tea:
Sarah, Tess and Rose: afternoon tea at The Farmhouse in beautiful spring sunshine. We sat for hours...
Such a great tradition, to 'finish' something with celebratory food. We thought we'd do a much shorter book next time - Jude, perhaps...!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

I have come to the part of the term where I teach the children about the real meaning of Easter.  Many of them are astounded to discover that it is not a festival about chocolate eggs but about an innocentt young man who died a criminal's death around 2000 years ago.
I can't assume any prior knowledge in these privileged, well-educated, mostly very wealthy middle-class white children. 
So, over a course of several weeks, I show them the wonderful animated film 'The Miracle Maker'.  Today, using artistic representations of the principal events, we recapped the story.  Slowly, piecing it together with a word of understanding here, a glimmer of knowledge there, most of the little group began to grasp what had happened during that sorrowful and joyous week.
It was while looking at a painting of the Last Supper, with the naked torso of Jesus high up above the table, looking down as he shared the bread and wine, that a gem of insight appeared.  Georgia remarked thoughtfully: 'I suppose, if the bread was his body, that when he broke up the bread and shared it out he was sharing himself with all the disciples.' Ross added, 'Yes, that is what I thought. And that if he was perfect, then everyone got a little piece of perfection in them.'
Doesn't this just echo Ephesians 4:5 'There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.' (The Message)
Bless them.

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

On Ephesians 5...and love...and submission...

Verse 21 in Ephesians 5 begins the whole piece of advice on marriage with the encouragement of 'submitting to one another'. If we only did that, then we would indeed have unity in and among our churches. A simple idea - perhaps too simple - but how many disputes would be solved if we had the humility to do this?
We need to remember that Christ gave himself up for us, His church.  The Message says: Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. 
We can talk endlessly on how this applies to marriage, as Whitney does in this wonderful post; and with it comes the temptation to have the attitude of 'I would submit if he did this first...' but of course wives are told to submit first, regardless of what the husband does.  
The Contemporary English Version says: 'In the same way, a husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. A husband who loves his wife shows that he loves himself.'  That is often the problem in a marriage - for both men and women: we don't truly love ourselves and so it is hard for us to truly love anyone else.
Yet we are enabled to love ourselves by loving others first. My daughter Cat quote Mother Teresa this week: "I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." 

For all of us, married or single, widowed or divorced, it is good to reflect on how much Jesus loves, nourishes and cherishes His people, the church.. 
'Christ's love makes the church whole.'  

It is my prayer that I may be enabled to truly love my husband: putting his needs before mine, loving him even better than I do myself - and if I have to do it by submitting, help me do that!!!

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Wednesday, 7 March 2012


40Acts is a wonderful Lenten initiative. Inspiring - and depressing, as I 'fail' at so many acts of generosity. I try to build many of them into my life anyway, often unsuccessfully.  But it is inspiring to read others' attempts at living more generously - Jeff Doucette, for example.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I love this quote about peace:
'No more able are we to drive the rain back into the clouds by holding hands to the sky…Or stretch a rainbow’s colors wide by scurrying to grasp its tails…Or force the tides to retreat by running at the sea…No more capable of these feats are we, than to pursue and capture peace.'

Samantha Reed says:
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15 NIV).

If we’re to find peace, we must become a pupil of He who is our Peace, Jesus Christ. He who is the Word. And this bit of Word,“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” is a fine educator.

This truth teaches us to slow down. Those two strong words, “let” and “rule” mean to “umpire” our hurried heart. So when circumstances crumble and we worriedly scramble to right them, we are taught to pause and call our heart to peace. How do we do this? Through intimate knowledge of He who is our Peace.

Christ is just, as Esther’s courage and Haman’s defeat reflects. (Esther 7)

Christ redeems, as Job’s great loss and even greater gain assures. (Job 42:7-17)

Christ is trustworthy, as His promised resurrection proves. (Matthew 28:1-10)

Christ controls the storms, as calmed winds and waves attest. (Mark 4:35-41)

Christ is... how can I fill in the blank? Christ heals...Christ loves...Christ forgives...

Monday, 5 March 2012

Grace and forgiveness

A sweet little reminder from Tracie Miles...

" 'God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.' Romans 5:20 (NLT)
He appeared out of nowhere. Blue lights burst on right about the time I laid eyes on his intimidating, unmarked SUV.
Immediately I checked the speedometer. It confirmed what the officer knew: I was speeding. A sinking feeling knotted my stomach as I prepared to receive the punishment for my inadvertent disobedience of the traffic laws.
I watched in my rear view mirror as the police car crept up behind me. With driver’s license and registration in hand, my fingers tapped in irritation on the steering wheel. My scowl deepened as I impatiently waited for the policeman to walk to my window. “Ma’am, I stopped you for speeding. Driver’s license and registration please.”
Then it happened. The unexpected. The unwarranted. The undeserved.
The policeman glanced into my car and checked out my passengers (including my three deer-in-the-headlights kids in the back seat). Then he startled us all by blurting out a big ol’ Southern “Hey!” to my husband, calling him by name.
Apparently they had grown up in church together and proceeded to spend a couple of friendly minutes reacquainting. He handed back my license and registration and gave me a smile. “Slow it down please, and have a good day.”
We sat stunned and breathed a collective sigh of relief as I drove away – slowly, I might add.
I had not paid attention to the guidelines set forth. My guilt was obvious, and I had no excuse. I deserved to suffer the consequences, but instead I was given grace.
Grace is undeserved favor or pardon. We can’t earn it or buy it. It’s something the giver bestows out of the goodness and love in their heart. The Bible tells countless stories of people who received grace, including prostitutes, unfaithful marriage partners, deceivers, thieves, liars and more. Their sins deserved a punishment, but when they asked God for forgiveness, His grace wiped their guilt away. They were treated as pardoned offenders – just as I was.
In today’s key verse, Paul is reminding the people of Corinth that despite their sin, God is good, and the Giver of grace. It serves as a reminder that God not only offers grace – He offers it in abundance. The more we need, the more we get.
Although God hates sin because it separates us from Him and ushers pain into our lives, His grace is available no matter how big our offense may be. And when we receive the pardon that was paid through the sacrifice of His Son, and begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, we receive grace, forgiveness and mercy.
As much as I appreciated the grace extended to me from the officer that day, it paled in comparison to God’s grace. You see, the officer’s grace was one of kindness, but not one of redemptive love. It was a grace of compassion, but not the life-saving grace Jesus gives.
The truth is, I deserved a speeding ticket that day but grace was given. In the same way, although we deserve punishment for sin, God’s forgiveness and favor are offered anyway… through the gift of His unexpected, unwarranted and undeserved grace.
Dear Lord, thank You for the undeserved gift of grace. Forgive my sins, and shower me with Your favor, even though it is undeserved. Thank You for loving me enough to grant me pardon for my mistakes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen."

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Too many blogs...

I read too many blogs, sometimes.
My home page on facebook is filled with too many updates.
I deliberately don't have a large number of 'friends' but I do subscribe to a number of inspirational blogs and groups.
Today, many of these updates spoke to me:
As I go through a study of Ephesians with Good Morning Girls, updating posts onto a tiny facebook group of a few local friends I meet with once a month for breakfast, this morning's reading was Ephesians 4:17-19 The Message says: And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
This talks about what the 'others' do - and I shouldn't, by inference. No going along with the crowd...
This mornings 'act' from 40Acts was to make myself uncomfortable: People often say ‘I don’t want to be rich, I just want to be comfortable’. Comfort has become a trophy; a prize to strive for. Well, let’s turn that on it’s head. Be uncomfortable today. Don’t hog that seat on the train, give it to someone else; whether they’re pregnant/elderly or not. If you know your neighbour is struggling to find work, offer to split your pay-check with them. Go out of your way, do hard things and leave your comfort zone.
'No going along with the crowd'.
Then, on facebook, these little notes from God:
Stephen Furtick: The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel. - after a weekend struggling with just this issue. A friend had boasted - and yes, it was out and out boasting - on facebook - about her children. Almost designed to hurt others whose children are not as apparently marvellous as hers.  And, much as I struggled and reminded myself about verses such as 'boast in the Lord', I found myself going down under the weight of Comparison and Envy and Insecurity.
Proverbs 31 Ministries: Sometimes hope arrives in big things. Sometimes it trickles in with small things. But always ... always ... it comes from the hand of God. Look for it and thank Him, no matter how big or small it may be. ♥