Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Should We Be Optimistic?

I heard a radio interview with an economist yesterday. The interviewer asked the economist: "should we be optimistic?" The interviewer, of course, was just talking about the economy.

I wonder, though, are you optimistic? Should you be optimistic? Apart from lots of money still flowing through the country because of a "mining boom", what do you have to look forward to? Is the future of this country really just all about money?

Is the ability to buy huge TVs and innumerable gadgets really a source of hope when neglected kids wander the streets in gangs? Is having a roof over your head really a comfort, when that roof isn't over the heads of those you love as well? Are payrises for politicians really compensation for children dying in state custody?

Isn't it about time you took off the blinkers and actually really looked around you at the world you live in? Can you be optimistic about it? Does what you see inspire hope? Go on, tell me - are you optimistic?

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Great Identity Theft

I can kind of understand where atheists are coming from.

If I had been taught from birth that I could earn my way into heaven by doing penance for my sins, I probably wouldn't think much of God either. If I believed that I could buy my way into heaven I would be completely disgusted with Him.

Billions of people who have lived lives of horrific suffering have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Many don't really understand who He is. Many fear of rejection or even torture at the hands of their friends, family or government. If I believed that those billions would ultimately be further tortured in ever-burning-hell by the God who calls Himself Love, I would turn my back on Him too.

On the other hand, if I believed that babies who couldn't speak a single word got to go to heaven just because they had water sprinkled on them in a mystical ritual, I would think that was really unfair. How could God know those babies would actually want to be there? What if they decided they didn't like God? Would He "force" them to like Him and do things His way - turning them into some kind of glorified robots?

Thankfully, I believe what the Bible actually says about God instead.

God has been subject to the greatest identity theft in the history of the universe. Over and over throughout history, God's name has been falsely stamped on acts of cruelty, ignorance and stupidity - on wars and crusades, on superstition, lies and trickery.

Thankfully God knew right from the beginning that this would happen and He has a Plan - a great, big, huge, enormous Plan, far greater than we usually give Him credit for.

You can either get to know God now through His Word - reading the Bible for what it actually says, not what other people say it says. Or you can sit back and wait and see what happens. Either way, you'll get to know who God really is eventually - that's all part of His plan. But the "wait and see" approach will definitely end up being more painful in the short term. Read the book of Revelation and you'll see why.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Season To Be Jolly?

It's that time of year again.

Time when there is talk of presents and trees and ornaments, and - very occasionally - the birth of Jesus Christ.

Only. It's really nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. Shepherds were in the fields when He was born - not likely in the middle of winter. And what do holly and decorated trees and lying to children about old men in red suits riding flying reindeer have to do with the birth of Jesus?


But they have a lot to do with the pagan Roman festival of Saturnalia. A festival devoted to worshipping false gods.

When you attend a church service on Christmas, are you sure you know who you are worshipping? Search the Bible, search history and the Truth may surprise you... or upset you. Are you really prepared to live for the Truth?

To find out more about the origins of Christmas and what God really thinks about it (based on His Word, the Bible), you can watch The Day After Christmas on Beyond Today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Medicated Morality?

I recently heard a well-known researcher, Julian Savulescu, suggest that we should use drugs or genetic modification to make us better people. Researchers have found that drugs can make people cooperate better and less prejudiced among other things.

But can drugs make us better? Drugs interact with our brains and alter chemical reactions, but when God created man in His own image, He gave us something beyond our mere chemical makeup. He gave us a mind. If altering our chemical composition to make us "better" would truly work, God would have done that from the start. He didn't because He created us to have free will, not to be robots.

A drug to make people cooperate won't make a better world. We have a very short memory if we think cooperation is always a good thing. One psycopath plus a bunch of cooperative people equals Nazi Germany and the holocaust.

It really would be better if we tried morality God's way.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Breaking Wind

Have you ever put your heart and soul into working at something... only to have it come to nothing? Maybe a gourmet meal where you added too much salt right at the end? Perhaps you repainted a room, only to have the paint peel, or to decide that you hated the new colour? Or perhaps you scorched a hole in a treasured craft with an iron?

Most of us have experienced it sometime - a totally wasted effort. Discouraging, isn't it? In reality, all our physical efforts will eventually come to nothing. One day, we'll die and then rot in the ground and all our physical accomplishments will rot or collapse or fade with us. Perhaps not right away, but eventually. So what is it all for?

In Isaiah 26 in the Bible, God compares all our efforts to better the world to a woman having "birth pangs" and then, instead of giving birth to a baby... breaking wind. Just imagine thinking you're pregnant for nine months, and then, after a long and difficult labour, letting forth nothing but a massive fart. What a horrible disappointment!

Even the Vatican has suggested a solution to the world's financial woes. Governments, charity organizations, social reformers - you name it - are scrambling to fix everything from wage disputes to climate change. Their efforts are huge, but the end result will be no more than a really bad smell.

There is a simple (but very unpopular) cure to this kind of flatulence. It's doing things God's way. But, as the Bible predicts, it's going to take the total collapse of all that we hold dear before humanity will accept God's way of doing things.

We have the chance to do something that will have a lasting effect - if we invest in something beyond the physical. Will we choose to leave behind something more than a bad smell?

To hear more about how current events relate to prophecy and how we should be living, check out the new Beyond Today Daily.

The World Is Falling Apart...

Have you read in the news that Italy is now being governed by technocrats? That means people who were not elected. Europe is changing rapidly. The governments of Greece and Italy have already collapsed. More big changes are in the wind with France and Spain in financial trouble.

Europe is falling apart. At some point it will be put back together, but it will look very different to the Europe my generation have grown up with. I know this because the Bible says so. Don't believe it? Try reading the books of Daniel and Revelation.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When It's All So Broken

Where do you turn when everything in life seems to go wrong?

When life seems to have turned into a trail of destruction and tragedy, how do you cope?

Any number of politicians and spiritual leaders have thought that they have the answers for a broken world. Many speeches have been made about the perfect formula for peace and prosperity for everyone.

There have been countless campaigns to end poverty and disease. Over 20 years ago a LiveAid concert was held to raise money for people dying of starvation. People are still dying of starvation. Despite the money raised at 46664 concerts since 2003, millions continue to contract and die of AIDS. Make Poverty History still hasn't made poverty history, six years after it started. GM crops were meant to be the solution to world hunger, but since the widespread growing of GM rice started, the world has suffered from a widespread rice shortage.

What hope is there for a broken world that politicians, spiritual leaders and charity organizations have completely failed to fix? Maybe occasionally someone succeeds a little bit - but then another (often bigger) problem springs up somewhere else.

The real reason the world is so broken is that we continue to resist the only real solution to every problem we have ever had.

Sometime - maybe soon - a bunch of leaders will come up with a solution to the world's brokenness that seems to really work - an alliance of powerful nations. In the end, though, it will lead to disaster and destruction greater than this world has ever known. Only after that can the real healing happen when Christ Himself takes over the world.

The question is - which side will we be on?

To read about Bible prophecies that explain the future and God's plan, have a look at the free booklet, You Can Understand Bible Prophecy.

I also recommend watching the Beyond Today episode: Calling Good Evil.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hope For All Humanity

I love this time of year!

We've just observed the Day of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. In a few days we will be joining friends in our faith to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day (or Eighth Day). These days (outlined in Leviticus 23, among other places in the Bible) celebrate, not what Jesus Christ has done for us, but the future hope for all humanity!

Earlier in the year we observed the Biblical days depicting Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, the removal of sin from our lives and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Passover, Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost).

What a joy it is to now (impatiently!) look forward to a time when "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Habakuk 2:14)! We don't know when that will be, but we see the signs, like the fig tree putting forth leaves (Matthew 24:32).

Observing these days reminds us that God truly will offer everyone an opportunity for salvation - that no one is forgotten or left out. What an incredible promise!

Unlike the pagan holidays, Christmas and Easter, God's Holy Days are a reminder of His whole plan.

And that's why I love this time of year.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Can't Fix It

I used to think (but never would have admitted it) that I could "fix" my kids' human nature just by being a really, really good Mum. I thought (without really thinking it) if I just gave them enough attention, enough "love", good food, etc, etc then they wouldn't need to lie or be sneaky. I thought they would grow up to be kind and thoughtful and good just from my hard work.

Then the bubble burst.

I can't fix me, so of course I can't fix my kids. The only remedy for human nature comes from God and we have to first see that and then accept it in order to be healed from our brokenness. Kids can't - not yet.

No matter how "good" I am at being a Mum (and I can't really be that good at it because I still have my own human nature to contend with), there is no short-cut to "goodness" for my kids - no bypassing the need at the very core of their being for God to rebuild them from the inside out.

God has given my husband and I the job of teaching our kids right from wrong, based on the Bible. He expects us to do our very best. It is not our job to fix them. If we try, we put ourselves in the place of God - we become our own idols.

It's hard to let go of that. I have to remind myself. Every. Single. Day. I am not God. I cannot fix it. Let God fix it. In His time. In His way. It won't just be OK - it will be better than I can even imagine.

My great hope is that my kids will choose as they grow up to let God fix them. My hope is that we will share eternity together.

If you have found this post encouraging, try listening to the fantastic sermon, Are You Playing Church?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

By This Shall All Men Know

During our Passover service earlier this year, I was really struck by Jesus' statement "by this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you love one another".

Really? That's how the world will recognise the disciples of Jesus? Not by speaking in tongues, or miraculous healing, or charismatic preaching?

More recently I heard a minister explain it this way: the proof of God's Spirit working in us is in the fruit (found in Galatians 5:22) we bear, not in the gifts (listed in I Corinths 12:1-11) we receive.

Love (which is explained in I Corinthians 13) is the very first fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Healing and speaking in tongues are gifts of the Spirit found in I Corinthians 12.

The love talked about by the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13 is far beyond a warm and fuzzy feeling. In fact, he told us that we could even "give our body to be burned", and yet NOT have true Godly love.

Real, Godly love
"suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away."

Jesus Christ never said anything that He didn't mean. Read the words above carefully - real love is hard. The question is, are we willing to make the sacrifice to become Jesus' followers? Are we willing to really love one another?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Do You Love God?


Do you believe in God? Do you trust Him? Do you love Him? More than your friends and family? The way He wants to be loved? Really? Really truly?

Jesus Christ who came to earth and died for our sins was the I AM of the Old Testament (He said so to the Pharisees in John 8:58) - the I AM who thundered to the Israelites in the wilderness and commanded them to kill those who had worshipped the golden calf (three thousand died that day - Exodus 32:27-28). This Jesus Christ is "the same yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)

So if you discovered that Easter and Christmas are pagan holidays, would you stop keeping them since God hates idolatry and pagan worship? Even if it really upset your sister? Or your kids? Or your husband? Are you sure you really love God? Or would you rather pretend to worship Him while enjoying the pagan rites of the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia?

What if you read in the Bible that it says that God hates lying - would you stop telling your kids about the tooth fairy? Even though it's "just for fun"? Would you?

If you discovered that the seventh day Sabbath was never changed or "done away with", would you give up Saturday football for God? Would you go to church then, even though your friends thought you'd gone a bit weird? Do you really love God?

Do you love God enough to read His whole Book? Without filters on? Not just bits and pieces but the whole lot, beginning to end - really paying attention to the details? Without finishing His sentences for Him, but reading what He is actually saying?

Do you love God enough to see you've been wrong and change? Do I? Because we've all been wrong and we've all got to change in some way. Do we really love God that much? If we don't ask ourselves that question, He will ask it for us some day. Are you ready for the answer?

I recommend watching God's Love Language to delve further into these questions.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Hole

There's a hole in the world we keep trying to fill,
Yet though we all work with all of our will,
The wound in humanity festers there still,
It will keep growing and throbbing until,
We see that our power and all of our might
Can't turn pain into joy or the dark into light -
Though we cry and we groan and we fume and we fight
Though we call the sweet "bitter", and call the wrong "right".
We can't hold back the shadow, nor pour down the rain,
Though still we keep trying... again and again;
We won't defeat death, nor conquer all pain;
But yet each generation toils on in vain.
There's a hole in the world that we never can fill,
But our Maker can, if we yield to His Will,
The wounds in our hearts will fester until,
We choose to let go, to trust God and be still.

K Mihalec

If you're looking for the solutions that come from making God a part of your life, try reading the free booklet Making Life Work.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Is Wrong Here?

A few months ago, a couple of news items caught my attention. One day I heard about the tragic death of a little boy hit by a train when he was playing on the railway tracks. The next day I heard that onlookers had rushed to the rescue of a swan being attacked by teenagers. The swan later died.

I am still overwhelmed with pain for the family of the young boy when I think about these two stories. People rushed to the rescue of the swan, but while witnesses had seen the child alone by the railway line, no one rushed to rescue the child. Some might argue that these events were sensationalised by the media and the news didn't tell the full story, but I have twice seen a frantic parent looking for a lost child and no one else helped - even though there were plenty of people around.

Truthfully, I am sickened and disgusted by this society that values an animal (with no thoughts or true feelings - values it so much that people will risk their own safety to protect it) above a human child created in the image of God. I am shocked that someone else's child in mortal danger is seen as none of our business. Shame on us!

If we keep on rejecting God's values and replacing them with our own, we will pay a terrible price in time. Just yesterday I read what that price will be in chapter 28 of the book of Dueteronomy in the Bible.

God put many laws in place to protect the weak and helpless. These were all part of the "golden rule" explained by Jesus Christ: "Love your neighbour as yourself" (and He then went on to explain through a parable that "neighbour" means everyone). I know what I would want others to do if they found my kid playing alone next to a train track - would I do the same?

We have a simple choice to make: will we start to live the give way, day by day; or will we insist that God prove His existence by pouring out the curses of Dueternomy 28 on us? Even now, the clock is ticking.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The First Thing

" Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

This is the simple formula for making every day work - no matter the circumstances: make connecting with God the first thing, and everything else will fall into place. That doesn't mean life will get easy - it means that when life gets hard, you'll get through - one step at a time.

By "first thing" I don't necessarily mean first in the day - I mean the most important. For a long time my Bible study habits were very hit and miss. The result was that my life was hit and miss. Now that I've made the point of putting God truly first each and every day (although there are certainly days when I drop the ball), I see His hand working in my life through the good and the bad. Like Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

For me, "first thing" means I pray and study before I do household chores, or other reading, or the things that seem important to me. And so often that time with God leads me to rearrange my priorities for the day. Above all, it leads to a better day. A fuller, richer, more purposeful day.

If you haven't already - I challenge you to try it for yourself - put God first in your day and discover how much better life can be.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

At Least She's Reading Something?

"At least she's reading something." I hear a lot of mums say, with a roll of their eyes when they talk about the books their kids are reading.

Then follows an awkward silence. I don't quite know what to say. I'm not familiar with the books they're talking about, but it gets me thinking. Does it matter what my kids read, as long as they're reading something? Are there books that I shouldn't let them read - even if it's the only thing they want to read?

The world of the mind is just as real and powerful as the world of the body. I have visited friends in hospital who were having serious hallucinations. Among the many lessons I learned from this, one that stood out was that the imaginary world has a lasting impact on us.

What do sick people have to do with what my eight-year-old is reading?

Just that the world of the mind that children (and adults) enter when they read is part of who they are. Scientists have recently discovered what God told us thousands of years ago in Proverbs 23:7 "as he thinks in his heart, so is he". (NKJV*) This is why early Christians were instructed in Phillipians 4:8, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right ... think about such things". (NIV) Elsewhere, the Bible says in Ephesians 6:3 that certain things should "not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints".

Reading isn't valuable of and by itself but is a great tool for learning and growth. Like any tool, though, it can be mishandled, leading to destruction. If you gave a child a hammer and he used it to construct a nuclear weapon, you probably wouldn't say "at least he's building something."

Our children's minds are a defining aspect of who they are - more so than their bodies. A loving parent wouldn't let a child eat only junk food, so is it wise to let them constantly read "junk" books? No loving parent would knowingly let their child eat poison, so should we let our children poison their minds with something that makes (for example) hurting others (in any way - including lying, stealing, cheating, teasing...) seem OK?

I believe it's more important for me to keep track of what my kids are reading than it is to make sure they brush their hair and clean their teeth. Better to prevent a rotten mind than to try to cure it.

*All Bible references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise noted.
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Friday, June 24, 2011

When God Lets Go

There have been a whole bunch of natural disasters happening around the world lately. Floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes - you name it. Even the most ardent climate enthusiast would be hard-pressed to blame earthquakes and volcanoes on man-made climate change. So what is behind all the natural disasters?

It's at times like these that many people will ask "why is God doing this?" The suggestion is that only a very cruel God causes the innocent to die in earthquakes, floods, fires and storms.

But what if we tried looking at the universe in a different way? The Bible tells us that God's eternal power is clearly visible in His creation (Romans 1:19-20). One of the basic laws of science is the law of entropy - the law that states that the universe tends towards disorder. Not surprisingly, scientists have recently expanded on this law in order to explain the order that we see around us. How is it that we live in incredibly ordered bodies on an incredibly ordered planet in the midst of a universe apparently ruled by chaos?

Bear with me, I'm going somewhere with this! What if God is the reason for Order in a universe that tends towards chaos? What if God literally holds our world together? If you read the Bible carefully - especially the Psalms, then it all points toward God - not just putting things in place - but keeping things in place.

What might happen then, if we collectively told God to "go away"? What if we told God that we don't need Him and we don't want Him, we're just fine on our own, thank you very much. What if God took us at our word and let go - even just a little bit?

I can't prove it scientifically, but that's OK because science can't even explain to me how a series of complex molecules that apparently assembled all by themselves can give me the ability to reason and question my own existence. So I don't feel a need to justify the mind of God (as if I could anyway!) to Science.

I truly believe that what we see happening to our world is God letting go, just a little bit. The great Creator is letting us experience a tiny hint of "doing it on our own, thank you very much."

Personally, I won't be telling God to go away anytime soon. Considering that collective humanity hasn't even been able to control a puny little nuclear reactor in Japan, I don't fancy our chances with the whole universe. I'm happy to keep God squarely at the centre of my life.

If you'd like to know more about the God holding the universe together, try reading Does God Exist?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why Me??

A common question in times of pain is: "Why me?"

Even devoted Christians often struggle with the great question "Why does God allow suffering?"

The answer is not really long and complicated. It doesn't take a university degree to understand, but few people are willing to accept the simplicity of the truth. As the Bible says: "the wisdom of God is foolishness to man." And yet, the 'foolishness' of God is far beyond the wisdom of man. What it does take is the Spirit of God to understand the things of God.

Suffering comes down to a result of choice. God gave man freedom of choice. When we make bad choices, suffering and pain is the result. Not always directly, and not always immediately, but eventually there is no escape from the consequences of our decisions. God allows the pain, not to be cruel, but to convince us that His Way is The Right Way.

Right now, it seems senseless that children, especially, suffer horribly, but it can all be traced back to the choices of humanity. Most especially our choice to tell God we don't need Him and we don't want Him.

God won't force us to do things His way, but nor will He rescue us from our failed paradise.

We can be excited and encouraged to know that God's plan is for everyone, and that He has ordained a second resurrection (raising the dead) to ensure that every man, woman and child has the opportunity to know Him and choose the Life He has to offer.

Beyond that time, God's promise for eternity is that there will be " more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain..." (Revelation 21:4)

For now, pain is a by-product of human choice - we must suffer because we (humanity) choose our way. We can look forward to Christ's return, when we will learn to do things God's way and suffering will come to an end.

For a more detailed explanation of human suffering, you can read Why Does God Allow Suffering, or to learn more about God's plan for all of humanity (God has not forgotten or abandoned the millions of dead who never heard the name of Jesus Christ), try reading What Happens After Death.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What Really Matters?

Life. It's so short. So how do we live every bit of it? What really matters in life? Does how we live reflect what we say really matters?

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, how would you spend today? Would you tell your loved ones that you love them? ... Now think ahead a few months or years on - how would your loved ones look back on your last words to them. Would they be a reminder of your lifelong concern for them? Would your words of love bring to mind how well you had treated them and how you had looked out for the best interests of others? Or would they be a bitter disappointment - a memory of words that were never turned into action?

There are lots of warm and fuzzy emails out there that encourage us to say "I love you" to the people that matter to us. Those words by themselves have very little value. In fact, the words "I love you" can be painful - even traumatic - when they give the lie to the actions of those who say them.

Jesus told His followers: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Even the most ardent atheist would be hard-pressed to argue with the truth of that statement. Whether your treasure is time, money or other physical, mental or emotional resources, wherever you put that treasure is where your "heart" truly lies.

So what really matters to you? It's a question I have to keep asking myself. When I look truthfully at the answer it helps bring me back to the rocky and difficult path that leads to Eternal Life.

Where are you putting your treasure? Are your time and money being spent on the things that you say really matter? Are your relationships getting the attention they deserve from you? Are you willing to do the hard things for the people you say that you love?

A workmate once told me that she didn't really respect her Dad. "He let me get away with anything," she said. Sadly, his failure to put in the hard work of being a real father had broken their relationship.

Before you launch into your next project or passion, take a moment to think about whether it is really part of the legacy you want to leave behind - are you investing your treasure into some that really matters?

Putting God into the centre of your life is the only way to truly understand what really matters. As a starting point, try watching How Big Is Your God? on Beyond Today TV.Link

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The End of Terror?

Osama Bin Laden is dead. What does that mean? Is it the end of terrorism? The beginning of peace? Hardly.

I'm no political expert, but I know a bit about the Bible. In the Bible, it warns of a time when "a thousand will flee at the threat of one". This has been true for a while in many Western countries. This has been true because these same countries are loudly rejecting God. While the US is meant to be a mostly "Christian" nation, it is Christian in name only. God doesn't think much of people who say they follow Him... but don't.

"Christians" continue to get divorced left, right and centre - God hates divorce. People who are already struggling with money get tricked and manipulated into overspending "to keep the economy healthy". God hates it when the poor are abused. Children are neglected and mistreated by the very people who should be caring for them. God hates children being mistreated. Lying is accepted as a part of everyday life. A "lying tongue" is an abomination to God.

The formula for the end of terror is very simple and guaranteed to work, given enough time: turn to God. No surveillance, no espionage, no delicate international negotiations. It doesn't even cost any money.

If you're interested in the role of the Middle East in Bible prophecy, you may like to read the free booklet The Middle East In Bible Prophecy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sticks and Stones...

"...May break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Why is it that we (society) still teach children something that is so clearly untrue? Perhaps we hope to protect our kids from drowning in the big scary world, but does it really work?

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue." Now that IS true. Just one word can be the difference between freedom and death in a country with capital punishment. For example: "We find the defendant guilty." or "We find the defendant NOT guilty." The very life of a prisoner can depend on that tiny, three-letter word, "not".

Children need to know the truth about words. The careless lie of "words can never hurt me" won't protect them from the violence of mean and nasty words, it will confuse them. And it may even tempt them to bully others (because they think words don't really hurt), or lie to protect themselves from "consequences". Adults too, need to understand the truth about words. A broken bone can be re-set, a broken reputation may be a lifelong disability.

There are many cautionary Proverbs in the bible about the power of the tongue. There are also Proverbs that teach the power of words for good, such as, "A soft answer turns away wrath." We may feel helpless to defend our kids against the cruel words of others, but we can teach them to respond with care and kindness. We can teach them to know their true value. Angry and bitter words do hurt, but the truth is what sets us free.

A kid who doesn't fight back with words might seem a soft target for bullies. Our kids can't expect that speaking nicely to others will mean others speak nicely to them, but the book of Proverbs also points out that "he who digs a pit will fall into it; he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him". In other words, if we lash out at others with our words, we can expect them to "roll" right back on us... someday.

Doing the right thing can seem pretty lop-sided if we are surrounded by gossip and "little" lies. Life won't be "fair" and reward us every time we use our words for good. The question is, will we let our character be defined by those who would drag us down? If we do, then they have won.

If you're looking for a new way of dealing with life's challenges, try reading Making Life Work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Why Is It So Hard To Really Love My Kids?

In that afterbirth glow, I felt like I would do anything for my kids. Even while I was pregnant, I was prepared to move mountains for them. Well, sort of.

Why is it so hard to really love my kids? I'm talking about hard like threading a camel through the eye of a needle. Like picking up a mountain and planting it in the sea. Really hard.

Sure, I serve them first at dinner time... That way I can enjoy my meal in peace. Sure I hug them lots - that gives me a warm glow that makes me feel good. Sure I feed them healthy food... because healthy kids are happier kids. None of that means that I really, truly love them.

See (I actually do know the answer), true love is too hard for normal people. We are able to give something that looks a lot like love, but in the bible there's this word for love in Greek: Agape. It means pure, self-sacrificing love that seeks nothing in return. Just a few days ago we observed Passover, a memorial to Jesus Christ dying a horrible death because of His love - Agape - for mankind. The bible tells us that God IS Agape.

It's so hard to really love my kids because on my own I'm incapable of Agape love. The love that our kids need is more than a warm and fuzzy glow. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't have eaten so much chocolate while I was pregnant. If real love were easy, then supermarkets would sell a lot less lollies. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't yell at my kids just because I'm frustrated. If real love were easy, then I wouldn't pretend not to see my kids being naughty (because dealing with it is hard work for me). If real love were easy then... well, you fill in the blank - we all have ways we let our kids (and others) down because real love is humanly impossible.

But there's hope! Firstly, God loves my kids more than I can ever even imagine. He also loves me. And if I turn to Him and try to obey Him, God will put His love in me. Still hard work, but no longer impossible. With God all things are possible - things like threading a camel through the eye of a needle.

To read about God's plan for your family, take a look at Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why A World Without The Easter Bunny?

Around this time every year, my girls are taken by surprise. Someone somewhere asks them something like: Are you looking forward to Easter? Inevitably, they respond with a stunned silence, usually until I answer for them. We don't celebrate Easter. I can almost hear what they are thinking.

That's weird.

Poor kids. (This photo shows two of our deprived children enjoying time during one of God's appointed festivals)


And sometimes:

I thought you were Christians.

Imagine this little scenario for a moment:

A married woman has an affair and leaves her husband for a number of years. Eventually she realises that she was better off with her husband. Her lover is cruel and abusive. Finally she breaks off her affair and returns to her loving and forgiving husband. However, she can't understand why he gets so mad when she throws a big party on the anniversary of her affair. She invites all of her lovers friends and gets caterers to prepare his favourite foods and provide his favourite drinks. She thinks her husband shouldn't mind - that he should be grateful, even - because she says she is throwing this party for him...
What do you think?

Yes, I guess it is weird to most people that we don't celebrate Easter. No, not poor kids. Yes, we are Christians - followers of Christ. Christ did not celebrate Easter. Easter started long before Christ was born, and bunnies and chocolate eggs have everything to do with worshipping a false goddess and nothing to do with Christ's death and resurrection. Even though they are still young, our children are already learning and appreciating the importance of worshipping God as He commands on His Holy Days. We cannot truly worship God by throwing a party for ancient pagan gods and saying that it is for the True God. It's like the woman throwing a party for the anniversary of her affair.

There are plenty of fun things we can do for and with our kids without disobeying God's command NOT to worship Him in the way other religions worship their (false) gods.

We want to honour God as HE wants to be honoured - that's why we have a world without Easter bunny.

To read more about the origins of Easter, look here, and to find out about the holy days that God expects Christians to observe today and what they represent, click here