Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grace Gems devotional for today: Nursing a viper!

Nursing a viper!

(J. R. Miller, "Devotional Hours with the Bible" 1909)

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." Colossians 3:5-7

A new life in Christ calls for the utter destruction of these evils. It is a shameful list which Paul names. It makes us ashamed to think that such qualities may belong to us--or may nest in our heart! Who would have thought that any these vile things could exist in anyone who wears the human form! Yet many of these ugly things are found in each of us! Our hearts are naturally cages of unclean birds!

What does Paul tell us we should do with these unholy things? He says we are to put them to death. When we find any evil thing in ourselves, we must kill it, for it is not right for it to live. An uncompromising war should be waged against all evil. He who cherishes any impurity in himself--is nursing a viper which will sting him to death by and by!

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We have published J. R. Miller's short articles:

The New Life in Christ

Paul's Counsel to the Thessalonians

Grace Gems (choice ELECTRONIC books, sermons & quotes)

Grace Audio Treasures (choice AUDIO sermons)

Sovereign Grace Treasures (choice PRINTED books)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ready, Steady, Sweetie

Here is the art Em (7yo) did today! Mt Barney. Drawn from a quilt I am still trying to finish!

We are in week eight of our ten week 1st term. Remember I told you that 'Em' was suddenly 'ready' for school work at the beginning of the term! At Christmas time she could barely remember two thirds of her alphabet at any given time. We would revise the ones she did not know intensively and she would promptly forget the others and so we would go around and around in circles, never managing to get it all in, in one go.

At the beginning of the term every single word had to be sounded out painfully, with little remembrance of the word, even if the word had been read a few seconds ago. (We are using a combination of Blue LLATL readers and SMILE educational toys and remedial reading program, readers and games. Much credit goes to SMILE! ) We played lots of games, had 'big kid' spelling tests, used work books along side readers, used flash cards etc and made all words 'fun'! This term I also introduced the 'ready, steady, sweetie' (lolly/confectionery) method!

It started with one lolly for every page of a reader, then one lolly for every reader/story, then one lolly for every 5, until we build up to 12 readers/stories for a lolly. And now we are ready and working on the next set of readers! ch sh and wh words, plus, "who, what, where, when, why and they" type words...for Em it is a miracle turn about! I am sure the lollies helped as did her precocious little 5 year old brother who reads faster and better than her, and so keeps her motivated to keep going! But in reality I know deep down inside, not even mountains of lollies could have made it happen last year or the year before. As she heads up to her 8th birthday this Easter I breath a sigh of relief for her is so much easier and so much more fun when you can read!

So where do I find the time in the day to listen to at least 12 readers two times over( two kids) twice a day, making 48 readers/stories to listen to? I spent the beginning of the term taking my 19 year old to TAFE (now she is using the bus!) and used driving time as 'read to Mom' time, in between talking to the 19 year old...not ideal but it worked. Now we are using our two year old JJ's potty time as reading time. The only problem is he insists on having his turn to 'read' too and we have to give him a chance to repeat some words from the reader as he looks, no doubt, will sound funny and cute to you, but on an everyday basis it requires much patience on my part! Teaching a two year old to 'read' during potty time is not exactly my idea of fun, especially an exceedingly determined one who really is not ready to read! But I guess one of these days he will be a "ready, steady, sweetie". Right now he gets his sweeties for doing the right things in the potty and he also gets to watch one of his favourite DVDs, Little Bear or Love to Sing if the 'big one' goes in the right place at the right time. We have had two days of no TV for this little chap which as far as he is concerned is a national disaster! I think the penny will drop long before the national disaster gets any worse, or at least I hope so! AS I said it he is very determined, a nice way of saying strong willed, and he loves TV! Given half a chance he would watch all day every day!

I highly recommend the 'ready, steady, sweetie' method. Firstly your child needs to be 'ready', then you must be prepared to be kind and steady in working with them and they are the 'sweeties/sweetie pies' who get the reward of a sweetie. When my big kids were little I felt guilty for using lollies as 'bribes'! Now I see it as payment for work, a way to bless them and encourage them and after all who doesn't want to instill a good work ethic in their kids? How much I enjoy my precious sweet children, what sweeties they are indeed!

Politically Correct: Which feet are better?

"Politically Correct"'s an odd animal of it's own kind. It changes and twists and turns as it pleases. It can be your friend but also your enemy all at the same time.

In South Africa I remember trying to be very polite and 'Politically Correct', so I wrote my first university sociology assignment with the word 'African' instead of 'Black'. Every single 'African' word was returned to me vigorously crossed out in dark repeated scribbles of emphatic red, with the comment... "I am Black and proud of it! Aren't you African too?"

Every since then I love to use the word 'Black' when I refer to my lovely fellow Africans. For me it symbolises the finally jubilant struggle my fellow South African had to be recognised as equals. To not use it takes away some of the pride and dignity these people have in who they are, it takes away part of their culture, history etc. I get so thrilled when I see a Black Mother with a baby on her back here in the middle of Brisbane carrying her child as as only a Southern African can skillfully carry a baby. I cannot resist going to a fellow sister and discovering and sharing where we come from , why we left, what we miss etc, etc. If I occasionally hear a clicking language my head whips around and I have to ask if they are speaking Xhosa, for although I have forgotten most of the little I knew, it is is the music of 'home' to my Capetonian ears. These days I have good number of relatives who are 'Black'. Yet I see no difference between us, as most people would see. They are my cousins children or my sister's spouse with names and personalities, people I wish distance had not kept us apart, as with all my family back in Africa.

Of course I am African, I was born in Africa, brought up in South Africa, of African parents. Africa is part of my heritage and I love Africa. Culturally I am still African. I can still imagine the smell of it's sea, its veld; the feel of it's wind and rain; the sound of it's thunderstorms and weaver birds... I am Africa, even though I am so far away from Africa.

Yet, here in Australia and New Zealand I am not considered 'African', South African, maybe, but not 'African' .... I have not got the black skin to match the word. And if I use the word, 'Black' to describe anyone else, I am considered rude. 'People of Colour' would be better/polite/politically correct. Although it covers a multitude of people whom I would not ever consider Black, so there is not a direct correlation between my, 'Black' and their 'People of Colour'.

African is is used here, to describe Black people from Africa. Aboriginal or Maori, Torres Strait, Fijian etc is also problem being that I cannot always tell the difference, having not grown up here, so 'Islander' is used too, but that excludes Maoris and Aboriginals. In the end I often give up confused and just make sure I am warm and kind to all.

Another area of political correctness that interests me....are the liberties allowed to those who are not comfortable with my choice of an 'alternative' lifestyle. It would not be considered polite/politically correct for me, as a home educator, to suggest to anyone else to think of homeschooling as a favourable alternative unless my opinion was invited. But others who chose to educate their children other ways think that they can tell me not to home school. Or they can use homeschooling as an example of legalism (which it can be) but not balance it with encouragement and love.

Another is not considered polite for me to encourage others to have more children as blessings, again, unless my opinion is invited but people see it as their right to tell me not to have any more children, and to discuss in depth my stupidity and it's consequences and how I can prevent more children in embarrassing and rude detail...

And yet another is seen as simply stupid or mad or plain well oppressed to be 'barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.' Hay, I love being that person....I love to kick off my shoes and have the freedom to bake cookies with my kids and the joy of feeling a new darling kick against me as I work. Political correctness has stolen a basic pleasure of feeling good and free and blessed to have the privilege to stay at home and not earn any money. One feels semi guilty about choosing such a wonderful, freeing lifestyle. I see it as a tremendous privilege, an honour to be with my children all day! I appreciate my hubby hugely for going to work everyday, to enable me to nurture and teach our children at home. I think I have the better deal. I would hate to go off to work and leave someone else the pleasure of my own children!

Political correctness covers a multitude of issues too vast to even mention them all no longer means happy, a newly conceived baby is called a fetus, just in case you should not want it and should feel guilty about it, and so it goes on. Political Correctness has of course protected and educated many people over it's lifetime and we can appreciate it for that. Yet, I think political correctness is simply a replacement of good Christan morals/standards, respect for others and good old fashioned kindness. Morals, ethics, and etiquette have been replaced by this thing, 'political correctness'. The problem with political correctness is that it is simply based on current 'standards' that vary with time and culture.

Be politically correct all you like but do remember to be respectful and understanding and kind in the process. Not everyone has to think as you do, not everyone wants to hear how you think they should be like 'you' and not everyone has to feel guilty for not being 'you'. Hay, I still love and respect you for being 'you'! LOL

Which feet are better?

Same feet, just a different perspective!
(Photographs by Jessica Murray)