Saturday, April 7, 2012

He lives

Jesus died. But now
 He lives,
  that I may have life in all it's fullness,
  by His grace my old life is past,
my new life is His gift to me -
The gift of eternal life!

Repent and believe!

Do you say thank you for your gifts?

" When He(God) bestows gifts on us He expects the recipients to take the time to understand and appreciate their value. When we do so we discover there are no hidden charges or ulterior motives. They are completely free and undeserved. And yet it would be a serious mistake to assume God expects nothing in return, because the purpose of all His gifts is to bring purpose to bring glory to Himself, because He is God. Whatever the gift, failure to give God the glory is a grievous sin ( Romans 1:21) Moreover all the ability that sinners need to give glory to God for His goodness and grace are given freely to those who He chooses 
(1 Corinthians 10:31)"
This is a quote from Frank Allred's books Rediscovering God's Love (pp25 and 26), it is written in the context of discussing gifts - giving and receiving and our cultural responses.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Remedial Reading

There are two difficult processes that can be identified in our family when remedial reading is necessary. One is memory work ( learning letters, digraphs etc) and two fluid blending of letters, digraphs, diphthongs etc.

It has taken some of our children years to learn these processes, using  every know method to teach them and usually when I am despairing that we will never teach a child to read they seem to come right. Once they have the two concepts above under their belt they suddenly fly ahead with reading. Within months of our oldest daughter reading years behind her age, she was reading at a 16 plus level, using the New Zealand reading tests. Other of our children seem to take to reading like a duck to water, and read above their age level from the word go.

Here are some things that have helped me over the years: (1) A child should never feel inferior because they struggle to read. (2) Like speech dispraxia or 'slowness to talk' they can come right with time and it is not always a reflection of intelligence levels. (3) They should be treated with respect and where at all possible they should be protected from being made to feel stupid.

Here are some useful word lists.

"It is common for an autistic to have trouble connecting two events even if they are very close together. For example, if teaching reading with flash cards, use cards with both the written word and the picture of the object on the same side of the card. If they are on different sides, the child may not understand that they represent the same idea."

Don't give up, always be kind and encouraging, and overly generous with praise. Make it a lot of fun with lots of games and 'tricks' to make the boring seem new and interesting and always, always enjoy reading together!  Ruth Beechick's books have lots of good ideas. (The 3 R's)
"Lord, it is my chief complaint that my love is cold and faint; Yet I love Thee, and adore: O for grace to love Thee more!" -William Cowper

A Closer Look at Sadness 3: Jesus wept. What sadness do we bear?

Have you ever seen a dog with a wound? In an attempt to keep a wound clean I have seen a dog lick and lick and lick and lick until the wound is raw and far worst than it ever was before. A special collar that prevents the dog from reaching his wound is needed in order for the wound to heal. These collars can be called Elizabethan collars (E-collars for short), cone collars, or lampshade collars.

Sometimes we are in need of such a spiritual collar, for our sadness can sometimes simply be discontent and is therefore sin.

So when is it righteous to be sad?

Let us take a look at Jesus sadness.

Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. Not just a little cry, God's word says he was greatly troubled and deeply moved. He wept over the consequences of the fall - death itself. And He wept over the sadness of His worshipping friend, Mary. How beautiful was her utter faith in Him, no doubt this must have moved His heart as well. He wept over Mary's Jewish friends who wept. There is no doubt He was himself was saddened by His friend's death.

But what did this grief do for Jesus? It moved Him to show us His glory! Does our grief move us to show others more of God's glory! Does it push us to good worship and good works?

John 11: 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. ...

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

He wept over Jerusalem.
Jesus wept over His unbelieving people who were blinded and could not see His plan of salvation and peace. It would seem that even Jesus as a man, wrestled and struggled but accepted the sovereign plan that some would go to hell. Do we weep over souls lost, does it move us to tell God's plan of salvation, do we accept His sovereignty even on these matters? We should be deeply moved and troubled for the souls of others, we should be praying in earnest about these things..

Luke 19: 
41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying,  “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Jesus wept over His impending death and separation from His Abba Father in Gethsemane, over the thought of the full impact of utter shame, utter destitution, the utter burden of our sin: 

In His utter grief of facing death, the brunt of our sin...His sorrow yet brings triumph - for He submits to His Abba Father and does His greatest work of all - He dies in order that we may have salvation.

Jesus greatest point of sorrow: the moment before death: When we sorrow, may we have a holy, godly sorrow that bows our knee before our Lord. That says as Jesus did just before He breathed His last to enter His moment of greatest grief ..."into thy hands I commit my spirit"

I am reminded of the verses in the Old Testament, of how God can use sadness for His glory.

Ecc. 3: 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
And Psalm 30:
To you, O Lord, I cry,
and to the Lord I plead for mercy:
“What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me!
O Lord, be my helper!”
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Closer Look at Sadness 2: Gethsemane Night

After Jesus had publicly acknowledged that Judas would betray Him, He went to Gethsemane to pray. Three times His best friends (who are there to support Him) fall asleep, totally oblivious to His agony.  Luke says they were 'sleeping for sorrow'. It was to much for them to fully support Jesus. I wonder, did they not notice that He was sweating drops of blood? Why could they not at the very least pray?
Jesus knew full well what impact His death would have – separation from His Father as He carried the full brunt and shame of the punishment of our sins... And so our Lord begs in prayer for this ‘cup’ to pass, yet He says, in sweetest submission, “Not my will but thine be done!” What whole and perfect submission to Abba Father’s sovereign plan, what utter giving up of self. Where is the frustration, anger, bitterness, urge to retaliate in the unfairness of it all – there is none.
With acceptance He faces His father’s sovereign plan, Matthew 24: 47b “See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
 When Judas comes Jesus knows Judas is a traitor and not a true believer, yet in His kindness, Jesus calls Him ‘friend’ and that just as Judas plants the betrayer kiss upon our Lord’s cheek! May we have such gentle generosity towards our betrayers?
Then in a hasty attempt to protect His Lord a true friend chopped off the ear of the enemy, right there and then Jesus heals His enemy. There is a general grace displayed for the wicked men that surround Him. As our Lord submits to His Father’s sovereign plan, He is able to work in confidence and kindness.  These enemies may not have been destined to an eternity of walking with God, but Jesus shows a kindness and respect towards them all the same and that in His most difficult hour.  He also reminds and comforts His ear chopping friend of who He is - the Lord that could call upon twelve legions of angels to save Him, yet chooses to go through with the most terrible of all deaths. 
Oh that we may so emulate our Saviour in this!

Did Jesus really understand sadness, you may wonder? There is no hint of sadness in all of these happenings. Other than in His most private moments in Gethsemane, we see no obvious sadness in Jesus. Yet, He tells His disciples, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death”. He does not demand help from then in this, He merely asks for prayer. There is no shame in asking for prayer in our saddest of times, even our Lord did. 

But it is also interesting to see that He did not use His sorrows as an excuse to stop serving others in His very best manner… Judas is the only disciple who calls Jesus ‘Rabi’ instead of ‘Lord’, yet Jesus calls him friend. There is a quiet obedience that only comes from prayer and a peaceful submission to the Abba Father.
In such perfect giving - His perfect life is a perfect example to us now and even more so it is the only perfect sacrifice that could take away our punishment for sin, when we repent and believe.
Sadness is real; Jesus understands it far more deeply than we ever can. None of us have sweated drops of blood in teh agaony of our immense sadness, have we? Yes, sadness should not stop us from serving our Abba Father. In fact our sadness can bring us to pour out our hearts to Him and to serve Him all the better for the sweet working out of our submission and our trusting of His sovereign plan for our lives.  

What should I do when feeling completely overwhelmed . . . ·

Since my own circumstances have changed I stumble across so many righteous women and men who suffer and manage in difficult circumstances; not only manage by just coping, but manage to glorify God well despite their circumstances, maybe even because of their circumstances. I came across this link recently on the Facebook page of a dear one who has suffered much grief recently. I am grateful for friends who gave me wise counsel such as this in my most raw moments of utter grief and devastation. These moments do not vanish over night, but there is an all wise Wonderful Counsellor who can bring us through! 

Psalm 50:15 ...
call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, 
and you shall glorify me.”

What do you do in the most raw moments of grief? Here are some helpful suggestions...

Ask RC: What should I do when feeling completely overwhelmed . . .

by R.C. Sproul Jr. on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 2:00am ·

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Closer Look at Sadness: 1 (The Emmaus Walk)

We had a lovely sermon a little while ago on the Emmaus two walking away from Jerusalem after Jesus death; perhaps they were going back home . (The sermon is presently on the home page of our church web site, see, but later you will find it in the sermon list. It is called Spiritual Heartburn, Luke 24:13-35)

It has brought about a thorough reflection on sadness ...

Here were two who had interacted personally with Jesus - turning their backs on Jerusalem, having given up on the promises that Jesus had given them. They were discussing the things that had happened when Jesus came to walk with them but they were kept from recognising Him. Jesus asked them what they were talking about. We are told that they looked sad. They told Jesus of their hope that Jesus would be their redeemer, but of how Jesus had been killed at the hands of their own chief priests and rulers.(Their hearts must have been aching with grief and disappointment). Further they told of the women who had been to Jesus' tomb and had see the body gone and of how the angels had told of Jesus resurrection. Some others who were with these two went to the tomb and found the same but did not see Jesus.

What was Jesus reaction to the two?   Luke 24: 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

How often are we sad due to unbelief?

How often are we sad because we cannot see God's sovereign plan?

And how often do we not trust due to our lack of understanding?

How often are we sad due to giving up on our hope in our Lord Jesus? 

What was Jesus solution for them? 

God in His grace allowed them to understand who He was, for after He disappeared in the mysterious manner that he was able to with His special resurrection body, they realised that He was Jesus by the way He had broken the bread. Their eyes were opened. After Jesus left them, again they discuss what had happened... Luke 24:31 “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

Do we, when we are sad, walk with Jesus or go our own way?

Do we talk with God in prayer and receive/read His words as these two did as they walked with Jesus?

Interestingly, Jesus went even further in helping them ... for that very night, after Jesus had left them, they rushed all the way back to Jerusalem to share their exciting discovery with others. They may have said something like, "Jesus is alive, indeed, we have seen Him ourselves..." Jesus in His grace appeared to them again while they were with the others and talking about these things. This time there was doubt as to whether Jesus was really alive or just a ghost, and Jesus offered for them to see his hands and feet, with crucifixion nail holes; then Jesus offered for them to touch Him and know His realness, the solidness of flesh and bones! Then He asked them for something to eat and they give Him fish - further proof that He was alive, for He ate in front of them! Finally, He once more went to the scriptures and explained things to them. He also explained repentance and forgiveness. And promised them power from on high (the coming of the Holy Spirit).

What immense grace poured out onto these Emmaus two, truly it is only the Lord Jesus who can take away our sadness! Are we prepared to patiently wait on Him, trusting Him as sovereign? Do we go to His word and talk with Him? It is the best thing that one can ever do when you are sad. Pray that the Lord in His grace will make your heart 'burn' as you walk with Him, as you talk with Him and as you listen to Him!

"Surely we are not sufficiently sensible of the infinite tenderness of Jesus!" Spurgeon. Psalm 61: 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. "When grief presses you to the dust, worship there, 'pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.' This sweetens sorrow and takes away it's sting." Spurgeon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sharing: It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Emma has just had a birthday, and for her own birthday she bought a budgie for her sister! Last year she was given a tame budgie and then when our dog killed it the same sweet girl gave her another budgie! So it was a natural reaction to want to bless her sister as she had been blessed! I was really touched by her generosity, as she does not have a lot of money, she used her money that was given to her for Christmas!

My little boys are a bit more complicated, today they were having races up and down a ladder that was lying flat on the ground - they were sooooo cute as they were taking turn to come first. Only they lost track of whose turn it was to come first and there was a bit of a melt down and a squabble! It was a nice start at any rate and a good opportunity to talk about attitude etc!

My two middle boys and my middle girl gave generously today, without me even asking! I was sorting out the garage - a massive job that has not been completed since we moved here 3 years ago in a hurry after we had flooded. When I got inside after dark the kitchen cupboards had been beautifully tidied, dishes were done (minus a dishwasher, which is broken!), the floor mopped, dinner cooked, lawns mowed, washing done. Then tonight while I was putting little ones to bed the washing was hung out (3 or 4 loads!) and piles ( at least 3 or 4 loads) were folded  and packed away and dinner dishes done too (minus a dishwasher!) How impressive indeed!

I can't leave out my big kids who came home from Toowoomba fireworks with the most gorgeous horsie T-shirts for their little sister's birthday and candy floss too! How thoughtful and sweet! 

Oh how immensely blessed it is to train up these young ones and see them grow! Children are indeed a blessing and heritage!