Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

31 December 2010

2010 in lists

At the beginning of 2010 I joined Facebook.  An application popped up recently that allowed you to discover which ten words you used most frequently during the year.  My top ten were...

1:  Tea 
(I have had one of those "Quote a day" calendars dedicated to tea on my fridge this year.  Couldn't help but share a few of the gems found there in, although when this list came up I did wonder about have "Tea" before "God"!)
2:  God
3:  Jesus
4:  Reading
5:  School
6:  Book
7:  Club
(Frequent references to The Calvin Club and yes Cathy, I am back on board for 2011!!  I have one bookmark at Chapter 10 and another at Chapter 12...)
8:  Bible
9:  Great
10: Happy

What then is the view of 2010 from surveying this blog?  Apart from the various posts where I signed off from blogging (not once but twice...ridiculous...just ignore it if I do that again!), here are the posts that generated the most comments this year...

1. A Difficult transition
2. Epiphany
3. God is always good
4. How I won the vegie war
5. Highlights from Raising Boys
6. Meredith - Masterchef for the month of May
7. The year of the roast - 30th March 2010

The major decision that dominated the first half of the year, parenting, reading, cooking, reflecting on God.  These posts didn't just rise to the surface because of the number of comments either.  Apart from some of the lists that I have on my sidebar, the Stat Counter suggests that these are the ones that people seem to revisit the most.

In our annual family Christmas letter we each listed our top five highlights of the year.  Mine were...

1. Attending not one but TWO symphony concerts during the year, one of which included the most perfect performance you’ll ever hear of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 – “The Emperor” – with soloist French pianist François-Frédéric Guy.
2. The family holiday on Rottnest Island. Finding two baby mice having a party in our food box one morning was funny. Sitting on the beach with [one of our sons], sheltering from the rain under beach towels was gorgeous.
3. Being a member of the “Taste Test Team” for an edition of an Australian cooking magazine – which entailed testing four recipes and writing reviews – and receiving a Kenwood hand mixer for those efforts. The Pears in Parchment were truly excellent!
4. Rediscovering the joy of reading again. Fifteen books – a mix of fiction and non-fiction - under the belt for 2010. Looking forward to another fifteen (or more) in 2011.
5. Drinking tea – with [my husband] (while he had coffee!), with friends and family, while reading the Bible in the morning – good to have the time to drink the tea hot in good company and to get to the bottom of the cup for the first time in a few years.

In lots of ways these three lists wrap the year up pretty well.  Of course there were many other things that don't rise to the surface because maybe they happen in some form every year - or they can't rise to the surface because they just aren't my stories to tell...

1. The deepening of relationships with others here on earth and with God.
2. The stuff of family life.
3. Meeting new friends and farewelling others to other parts of the world and to heaven.
4. The handful of particularly good Scripture lessons.
5. The a-HA moments during personal prayer and Bible reading.
6. The privilege of walking alongside others practically and prayerfully as they circumnavigated the year in all its joys and tragedies, that in turn shaped my own life.
7. The letters penned and received.

These lists lean mostly towards the positive and don't give audience to the harder times of the year, which, like every year, were there.  Every year will bring good times and hard times - sometimes driven by circumstance and sometimes by attitude.  I am thanking God for 2010 and praying to grow in grace - to be genuinely grateful for the good times that lay ahead and to travel the tough times that will also come in a way that honours God all through the new year ahead.

But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands.
Psalm 31:14,15a

25 December 2010

Christmas Day 2010

Merry Christmas.
May you wonder afresh at Immanuel - God with us - as we celebrate the birth of God's precious Son,
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
And thank you for reading my blog this year.  I love it when you come and visit.
Love Meredith xx

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 4:5-11

24 December 2010

Advent 2010 # 4 - An Advent Basket

One aspect of Advent is that sense of waiting, of hopeful anticipation.  And one of the things that has filled me with joyful anticipation during Advent this year is knowing that a very dear friend of mine will find out tomorrow morning that this basket, which she received at the end of November...

All wrapped up

...was from me.  I first read about the idea of Advent baskets on Molly Piper's blog and was further encouraged when Cathy picked up and ran with the idea.  And so I made one too - a basket of 25 small gifts, one to be opened each day in December, leading up to Christmas.
These baskets can operate along the lines of Advent calendars with daily Bible readings pointing to the birth of Christ.  My way of incorporating that aspect was to make a copy of Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus as the first gift to be unwrapped.  After that, the emphasis was on little, happy gifts - to help with the preparations for Christmas (cards, pens, ribbons), things to ease the stress of December (tea leaves, candles, lollies), a few Christmas-y things (magnets, decorations, Christmas cooking bits and pieces) and towards the end, things ready for summer holidays (lotions and potions and grown up, nice sunscreen).  The final gift was a copy of Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, which is the Easter companion to Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, because without Christmas there is no Easter.

What was under all the wrapping paper
The basket was delivered to my sweet friend via a long and winding road of people.  She has no idea it was from me.  So much so that when I spoke to her on the phone about a week ago she told me all about it.  I was delighted to hear her talk - it has blessed her in all the ways I hoped it would, giving a little light each day in what has otherwise been a pretty dark end to a dark year - and I was so glad that she couldn't see my face as she was speaking.  It has blessed her but it has also blessed me.  It has been fun thinking of her opening a new parcel each day, finding joy in the daily surprises, wondering where they came from and it has reminded me to keep her in my prayers.

And so tomorrow Advent becomes Christmas Day.  The waiting is over.  My friend will know who gave her the Advent basket because I wrote her a letter with the last gift.  I will get to talk to her about the joy it has given me.  And together we will rejoice.

18 December 2010

Week three in "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Advent reading
From Raymond C. Ortlund Jr. (pages 97 and 98)

People love to celebrate.  People love to break from the routine of life and celebrate.  All over the world right now lights are strung and special music is being broadcast and  trees are decorated and gifts have been lovingly purchased and lavish feasts are being prapared.  The curse over C.S. Lewis' land of Narnia was that it was always winter but never Christmas.  What monotony and tedium and bleak weariness!  Life must be punctuated with celebration.  It's a universal human impulse.  And where did this inclination come from?  God created us this way. "What is the chief end of man?" the Westminster Catechism asks.  'Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."  Now, that is celebrating worthy of the name!

...Whether we have a silly reason or a solid reason, we will celebrate, because God made us this way.  And we who belong to Jesus have powerful reasons to celebrate.  God has come to us.  God has shown that this life is not the only life we will ever know, and that this world is not the only reality we will ever experience.  God has thrown open the gates of heaven to us through Christ his Son.  We have seen the celebration going on within those gates.  And that's where we're headed."

From Joni Eareckson Tada (page 137)

On this side of eternity, Christmas is still a promise.  Yes, the Saviour has come, and with him peace on earth, but the story is not finished.  Yes, there is peace in our hearts, but we long for peace in our world.

Every Christmas is still a "turning of the page" until Jesus returns.  Every December 25 marks another year that draws us closer to the fulfillment of the ages, that draws us closer to...home.

When we realise that Jesus is the answer to our deepest longing, even Christmas longings, each Advent brings us closer to his glorious return to earth.   When we see him as he is, King of kings and Lord of lords, that will be "Christmas" indeed!

14 December 2010

Advent 2010 #3 - Presents

Image from here
Here is a really great idea that a very dear friend of mine shared with me last week - which I share with permission.  She is going to write out key Christmas Bible verses on small pieces of card and stick them on a few of the Christmas presents under her tree - each one to be read out before the present is opened,  to remind everyone about Jesus in the midst of the wrapping paper frenzy.  Genius.  I think it would be exasperating to have too many, but maybe six or eight verses all up might be great - one or two each depending on the size of your family. 

I am thinking that I might do this by starting with a long strip of cardboard and dividing it into eight sections, cutting it out like a jigsaw.  The verses will end up being read out in a random order (unless I organise some very fancy way of ordering how presents are opened...probably not...) but we can collect the jigsaw pieces up as we go.  Then maybe on Boxing Day we can put the jigsaw together and read through the sequence one more time before the Christmas story is packed away until next year.

As I think about it, this might be a great idea for a Sunday School activity for this coming week.  Each child can make a set of jigsaw pieces and give them to their parents to attach to the gifts under their own trees.  Must get that organised before Sunday. 

11 December 2010

Week two in "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Advent reading
From J.I Packer (page 71)

This Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity - hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory - because at the Father's will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross.  It is the most wonderful message the world had ever heard, or will hear.

From Randy Alcorn (page 89)

As we gaze on nativity scenes and smile at those gunnysack shepherds, let's not lose sight of the striking irony.  A handful of shepherds, marginalized by the social and religious elite, were chosen to break the silence of centuries, heralding Messiah's birth.

04 December 2010

From "Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus" this week

Advent reading
From George Whitefield (page 12)

"And as, my brethren, the time for keeping this festival is approaching, let us consider our duty in the true observation thereof, of the right way for the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls, to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; an event which ought to be had in eternal remembrance." 

From Martin Luther (page 26)

"We must both read and meditate upon the nativity.  If the meditation does not reach the heart, we shall sense no sweetness, nor shall we know what solace for humankind lies in this contemplation.  The heart will not laugh nor be merry.  As spray does not touch the deep, so mere meditation will not quiet the heart.  There is such richness and goodness in this nativity that if we should see and deeply understand, we should be dissolved in perpetual joy."

01 December 2010

Advent 2010 #2 - Craft

I have been inspired by the lovely Ali to have a go at making some of these...

So, you will need...
red and green cellophane
pipe cleaners (red or green - or gold - half a pipe cleaner per decoration)
jaffas - three per decoration
mint leaves - two per decoration

Cut the cellophane into squares, allowing at least an inch border right around each lolly.

Twist the cellophane around each lolly.  Or invite a friend over to do the twisting bit for you...

...which will leave you free to work some magic with the pipecleaners.  First take three wrapped jaffas and bind them together with the pipecleaner.

Add one mint leaf...

...and then the other.

Secure tightly with the pipecleaner, and there you have it!  Sweet little table decorations.

And if you get a friend to help, you can make lots and lots of them, in the time it takes to watch a DVD together.

Enough to give away as sweet little treats for the children in my Scripture classes at school today.

28 November 2010

Advent 2010 #1 - Reading Material

Today is the first Sunday in Advent.  Christmas is coming.

My ideal Christmas would probably involved sending and receiving Christmas cards - because despite the bad press they get, I think they are a lovely way to show gratitude for the year past, express hope for the year to come and remind people of the joy it is to celebrate the birth of our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - and then on Christmas day, go to church and catch up with the family for a cup of tea and a mince pie or two. 

Of course it isn't that straight forward.   There are lots of extras.  And in amongst all the extras I find it all too easy to take my eye off the ball.  I lose my focus on Jesus.

So this year, while our boys are reading through the first 24 or 25 chapters of The Jesus Story Book for their Advent calendar readings, I am looking forward to reading my way through Come Thou Long Expected Jesus - a book of 22 readings focussing on the events of the Christmas story, mostly excerpts from longer pieces penned by the greats of old (Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon) through to the modern greats (John Piper, Time Keller and JI Packer) and lots in between.  The list of writers is impressive and the chapters are short.  Perfect! 

I came upon this little book from the good reviews it received here, here and here and have had it tucked away in my bookshelf for most of the year, waiting for December to arrive.  I am looking forward to catching a few minutes every day for a chapter of this book with a cup of tea, praying that it will help me to keep my eye on the ball and give Right perspective to the unusual amount of activity that this time of year seems to generate. 

And I hope it lives up to expectation because I have given away about eight copies during the year for birthday presents - so quite a number of my friends will be reading along too.  But for now, I'm off to church and after that I'd better go and dig out the boys' Advent calendar and get that ready for the 1st December!

23 November 2010

Perspective for a weary heart - Octavius Winslow

The Lord’s people are emphatically a weary people. It is a “weary land” through which they are passing- it is no marvel that they should be faint, even though pursuing.  Here is the cause of the greatest weariness.  Not more truly does the “whole creation groan and travail in pain,” than does he who “bears about with him the body of sin and of death, day by day.” It is indeed to him a continual and unrelievable pressure. “Who will deliver me from the body of sin and of death?” is his constant and mournful cry.  It is the union of the opposites in him that creates his burden.  Life and death- holiness and sin- grace and nature- are in perpetual, and often fierce combat.  In this lies the inward conflict.  This is the fight of faith.  Until life was breathed, and holiness was created, and grace was given, there were no oppressions, and no warfare, and no weariness.  Think of this, you burdened and oppressed saints of God!  Let this thought fall like a sunbeam upon your gloomy and saddened spirit.  Let it cheer you in your cloudy and dark day. 

HT: The Octavius Winslow Archive

16 November 2010

The fall of Jerusalem

Over the weekend I finished reading Jeremiah.  The final chapter is about the fall of Jerusalem in 587BC.  Here is a portion from Jeremiah 52:12-27

On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried all the bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. The commander of the imperial guard took away the basins, censers, sprinkling bowls, pots, lampstands, dishes and bowls used for drink offerings—all that were made of pure gold or silver.

The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the twelve bronze bulls under it, and the movable stands, which King Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed. Each pillar was eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference; each was four fingers thick, and hollow. The bronze capital on top of one pillar was five cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its pomegranates, was similar. There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; the total number of pomegranates above the surrounding network was a hundred.

The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers. Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and seven royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land, sixty of whom were found in the city. Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.

This is well written history.  It is plain and matter-of-fact.  An objective description of what took place.  And yet despite the plain style of writing, it's a deeply moving passage.  Ever since the great rebuke, I have trained myself to read the detail in the harder bits of the Bible (a.k.a. some of those long, tedious descriptions) slowly and carefully and have come to love passages like the painstaking accounts of the construction of the Tabernacle in Exodus and the detailed buildng plans of the Temple in Kings and Chronicles.  The beautiful and extraordinary detail in these plans is important because these were the places where God would dwell - these were physical spaces that needed to be fit for a King. 

And here in Jeremiah, described in very plain language, it is all plundered and destroyed.

This week I have been reading Lamentations.  If the end of Jeremiah was moving, Lamentations is raw grief.  This is the more human description of the fall of Jerusalem - the eye witness account and the personal response, written in poetic form, probably by Jeremiah.  There's horror, pain, sorrow, remorse, repentance, an acceptance of God's righteousness and right to judge and running wonderfully through chapter three, deep faith in God and hope in Him despite desperate circumstances.

This is a really amazing section of Scripture.  It describes an important moment in Biblical history but it also gives a stunning portrait of the human experience - of the hope we have if we choose Life (that can sustain us in our earthly life even under the most extreme of situations) and the consequences we face if turn our backs on Him.


See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20

10 November 2010

Good courage for memorising Scripture

Now, speaking of John Piper and memorising Scripture, I have said before that I think memorising Scripture is important.  Really important.  But I don't do it.  I have small spurts of enthusiasm for this task but they are short lived.  I find memorising Scripture really difficult.  For one thing I just plain have a bad memory - which would probably be improved for taking up this type of activity!  And I am conscious of the fact that I don't pray before trying to memorise Scripture - and I expect Satan would quite like to see all of us defeated in this task.

But the other reason I struggle - the reason I give up before I have even started - is that I don't retain a lot of what I memorise over the long term and this discourages me.  At my best I had the aim of memorising two verses per week.  For a while it is possible to memorise, review and retain a stash of verses. But it soon reaches a point where the number of verses to review becomes too great and then I give up.  If I can't review them I won't be able to remember them.  And if I can't remember them then there is no point in trying to memorise them in the first place.

John Piper memorises Scripture every day during his quiet time.  If that was only one verse per day, that would be 365 verses a year!!

So I was relieved and encouraged to read this John Piper's response to the question, "How do you keep from forgetting Scripture after you've memorised it?"  Said John Piper...

I don't. But practically, what can you do to keep it as long as you can? There is only one word. Review.

Review, review, review. There is no way to memorize Scripture that keeps you from losing it. Some people don't lose anything. Some people have traps in their head that just hang on to it. But only 1 in 10,000 people can do that. Average folks like me have to work real hard to memorize the first time, and then recurrently review to keep it. So I memorize verses every day, and I forget them every day.

This morning I re-memorized a verse. I finished Deuteronomy and ran across a verse that I memorized years ago. Maybe I memorize it once a year, because I read the whole Bible once every year.

The verse is Deuteronomy 33:26. "There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, and through the skies in his majesty." So, I've got it memorized. I probably will forget it in a week. That verse is hard for me to remember.

I've memorized that verse probably five times in five years. I forget it because I don't use it as often as some verses. So, I jot it down on a little piece of paper and carry it in my pocket, pulling it out during the day once or twice. If I try to nail it so that it is useful for me over the long haul, I keep it and review it.

A practical thing I would suggest for people to do, is decide what cluster of text they want to always be at their disposal. For me I could name Psalm 46, Psalm 23, Psalm 1, Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, a cluster of texts surrounding justification, 1 Peter 4:11—"let him who serves serve in the strength that God supplies, that in everything God may get the glory through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the dominion forever." This is the most quoted verse as we move into worship at Bethlehem.

So for my soul, for the warfare of my life, and for ministry in hospitals and counseling sessions, I want a cluster of texts at my disposal. Decide what those are, put them on a piece of paper, and review them until you have them down. I'll give you a little story.

My first or second year of pastoring I was called to the hospital—quickly. I went without my Bible. Rollin Erickson's wife just had a heart attack. I walk into a room of probably 20 family members that didn't know if she was alive or dead—as she is in surgery. Rollin gave me a big hug and said, "John, give us a Word from the Lord." Now, if I had my Bible I would have opened it to a Psalm or something. I didn't have my Bible, and for whatever reason at age 35 my mind went blank.

I felt so humiliated. It was horrible. Here are 20 people, and the husband of a dying woman says, "Give us a Word from the Lord." I can't even remember what I said. I probably said, "Let's pray," and tried to paraphrase some Scripture. I went home and got on my knees that afternoon. I said, "Lord Jesus, that will never happen again." I opened to Psalm 46—"God is our refuge and strength." I have been able to quote Psalm 46 verbatim for the last 28 years. I decided that Psalm 46 is going to be in my head because it is so useful all the time.

The answer is, review. But don't try to do that with every verse you learn. You should be learning hundreds of Bible verses by heart, and forgetting 90% of them. But then you get to them again and relearn them, and they are still with you because you learned them once. Somehow they will function to get out into your life.

But really nail down a cluster of soul strengthening words.

That is a great comfort.  Time to get back on the horse.

HT: Desiring God.

07 November 2010

Less is More

John Piper says,

I [do not] want to give the impression that I think there is virtue in reading many books. In fact one of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them.” God save us from the allurement of “keeping up with Pastor Jones” by superficial skimming. Forget about “keeping up.” It only feeds pride and breeds spiritual barrenness. Instead devote yourself to boring in and going deep. There is so much soul-refreshing, heart-deepening, mind-enlarging truth to be had from great books!

I actually think that for some people this point is not true.  I know a few people who can devour a lot of material quickly and then process and retain what they read effectively.  In fact I am married to one such person.  But for me, Piper's quote rings true and is an encouragement.  I read pretty slowly and I don't seem to be able to make a lot of time for reading in any case.  So to choose a few really good books and read them slowly and carefully works for me.

From John Piper's Brothers, We are Not Professionals
HT: Desiring God blog

02 September 2010

Praying honestly and honourably

Once upon a time things were bad.  So I prayed,

"Dear God,
Thank You for putting me in this situation because I know that you are going to teach me something really important out of this."

Barely honest!  Somewhere in me there would have been a shred of thankfulness however...

Another time things were bad so I thought I would be honest.  So I prayed,


No "Dear God," and I won't tell you what came next.  I raged.  I was honest.  But it was hardly any way to approach God.  Irreverent springs to mind, among other things.

So when things are bad how do we strike a balance between praying honestly, because God knows our heart, and praying in a way that honours Him?

Ali posted this poem by Bruce Smith recently.  And I think it finds this balance.  Bruce Smith says it as it is.  But without shaking his fist at God or levelling blame in His direction.  And then, having got it all off his chest, he does what ought to be done.  He realises that to dwell in the darkness is no place to stay, recalls that in God there is comfort, peace and hope and asks God to help him climb out of the darkness and back into the Light. 

Here is praying honestly.

It’s Dark in Here

Oh hell,
it’s dark in here!

I’ve fled here
to escape -
to escape the day,
to escape the family,
to escape the pressure
of people
and responsibilities.

I’m angry,
angry in my solitude,
angry with everybody
and everything,
angry with myself as well
for fleeing
to this rotten cell.

In this place
the past is as hurtful
as the present,
it comes surging back
with its recollections
of betrayals
and failures
beyond reckoning.
All the old scars
throb again.

O God,
it’s dark in here,
unbearably dark!
I cannot stay.
Strong, loving God,
restore me I pray
to a better mind
and help me find
lasting peace.

Bruce Smith

29 August 2010

Ten things that make me happy

The lovely Ali has tagged me.  The brief - to list ten things that make you happy.

1. Living life secure in the knowledge that Jesus died for me.  This glorious hope undergirds all else.
2. Sharing life with the three gorgeous people in this photo.

Being on holidays at the beach with them is pretty good too. 
3. Reading the Bible first thing in the morning, cup of steaming hot tea by my side, while the house is still quiet.  (The house is quiet but that doesn't mean everyone is still asleep.  Small people get to stay in their rooms until 7am and that is what makes this possible.)
4. Letters - writing them, sending them, receiving them.  Epistolary novels make me happy too.
5.  Speaking of books...reading, time to read and as of recent times, receiving a book in the post from The Book Depository.  (Gilead by Marilynne Robinson awaits me for holiday reading.  October can't come too quickly!)
6. Listening to this CD - especially the first disc.  Loudly if possible.  And singing along with it. 
7. Praying with other people.  Especially precious is time spent praying with my prayer triplet - a group of eight (counting is a small problem...but we are good at praying) who have been praying together in some formation or other depending on who is in town since 1997, at first weekly, then fortnightly and now monthly.  Always special.
8. Flowers.  Especially of the cottage garden variety.  Nice in a vase.  But even nicer in a garden.

9. Cups of tea shared with friends.
10.  Blogging.  And being tagged.  Thanks Ali!

What makes you happy?  I tag Sarah, Helen and Jean.

19 August 2010

God is always good

Yesterday I was reading the beginning of Job and lingered over a comment he made to his wife.
"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10) 
It reminded me of a time when I learned an important truth about God - that God is always good.  Thankfully at the time I learned this lesson I was spared trouble, save a small amount of embarrassment. 

It was a time when I was asked to give a testimony at a church event, with the aim of being an encouragement to the church family and maybe sparking some interest in God for those who came as guests.

I had decided to talk about how God was at work in my life at that time, rather than describe how I became a Christian, but on the morning of the event I still had no idea what I would say.  As I drove to work I prayed earnestly that God would give me some direction - I was running out of time!  And pretty soon that prayer was answered. 

As I sat at the traffic lights, waiting for them to turn green, I heard the screech of brakes, the sound of metal hitting metal, the tinkle of smashing glass.  Once, twice, three times.  A four car pile up and had there been sufficient momentum, I would have been the fifth car, but by God's grace, my car remained untouched.  The lights turned green, I drove off (that sounds a bit irresponsible as I write it now...I wonder if I should have stayed at the scene??) and praised God that He had spared me from being involved in that traffic accident - and praised God that I now knew what I would talk about that evening.

As I spoke that evening of the morning's traffic accident, I kept using the phrases, "God was good" and "God was with me."  Over and over.  And eventually I brought my story round to the goodness of God, that He should send His Son to die for me that I might have eternal life in Him. 

At the end of the evening, as I walked back to my undamaged car, a dear woman approached me and said, "Meredith, that was a great talk.  But I have a question for you.  If your car had been hit this morning, would God still be good?  Would God still have been with you?"

I still wince at that oh so gentle rebuke.  Because she is right.  God is good.  Even if my car had been the fifth car in that pile up, or even the first to be hit and so sustaining the greatest amount of damage, even if I had been injured or even killed that day - God is good.  Because trouble of one sort or another WILL come.  Traffic accident.  Ill health.  Fractured relationships.  Unemployment.  Poverty.  Death.  But for those who love Him, life with all its goodness and troubles, is lived upon the foundation of hope - that God will bring them home to Himself through the work of His Son on the cross.  That is the good constant with which we live, despite what happens to us in our day to day lives.

God is always good.

16 August 2010

Something to do when you're not feeling well

The following is today's reading from  Morning Thoughts by Octavius Winslow.  In some ways it seems almost preposterous and insensitive to post it, sitting here in fine health.  It is one of those "easier said than done" things.  And yet I think they are wise words - the sort of passage to reflect on during the good times and tuck away in your heart against the day when ill health will surely strike.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2

Is it true that God, by setting you aside from active engagements, has set you aside from all duty and labor? We do not think so. Is it too much to say, that He is now summoning you, though to a more limited and obscure, yet to a higher and holier, because more self-denying and God-glorifying, sphere of duty? Your present loss of health has brought with it its high and appropriate duties, obligations, and employments. It bears an especial message from God to you, and through you to others. Contemplate the work to be done in your own soul, and the testimony through this which you are to bear to the power of Divine grace, to the sustaining energy of the Gospel, and to the character of God; and I ask if the lone chamber of sickness has not its special and appropriate duties, responsibilities, and work, equally as difficult, as honorable, and as remunerative as any which attach to the sphere of activity or to the season of health?

You are called upon now to glorify God in a passive, rather than in an active consecration to His service. Graces hitherto perhaps dormant, or but feebly brought into play, are now to be developed and exercised to their utmost capacity. Patience is to be cultivated, resignation is to be exhibited, faith is to be exercised, love is to be tried, and example is to be set; and are not these great, holy, and sublime achievements? Who will affirm that there is no sermon to be preached from that languid couch, that sick-bed; yes, and it may be more solemn, more searching, more full of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, than the pulpit ever preached.

The Church and the world have now the testimony of one passing through the present and personal experience of what he speaks. A sick-room is not the place for theorizing upon truth and eternity. All transpiring there is stern reality. The dust of human applause is laid aside, the breath of adulation is hushed, the flush of excitement has faded, and the delirium of an admiring throng has passed away; the artificial gives place to the true. All is as real and solemn as eternity.

Deem not yourself a useless cumberer, because sickness has incapacitated you for active labor. God has but changed your sphere of duty, transferring you, doubtless, to one more glorifying to Himself. Receive, then, with meekness your Heavenly Father’s dispensation, which, while it has set you apart from the Lord’s work, has set you apart more exclusively and entirely for the Lord Himself. Your great desire has been to glorify Him: leave Him to select the means which may best advance it.

You have thought of health and activity, of life and usefulness; of being a champion for the truth, a herald of salvation to the ignorant and the lost, a leader in some high and laborious path of Christian enterprise; but He has ordained it otherwise. And now by sickness and suffering, by silence and solitude, He is giving you other work to perform, which shall not the less secure your usefulness, and promote His glory.

10 August 2010

Preparing for the Prophets

About fifteen years ago I was the co-leader of a Bible study group for the very first time.  One of the things we did that year was an overview of the Bible.  While the other leader (my minister, who was teaching me the craft of leading Bible studies) and I were planning these sessions I remember declaring, "I will do ANY section of the Bible for these studies but please don't make me do the Prophets." 

The troubles I have grappling with this section of the Bible are not new!  In just over a month's time I will be up to the Prophets (major and minor) with the Bible reading plan I have been using this year.  In order to finally have some success understanding in this part of the Bible, I have done some preparatory work.  Actually understanding the context of these books is likely going to be a key ingredient to understanding!!  Should have done this years ago!!  So below, some basic contextual information for each of the Prophets, major and minor, with thanks largely to The Lion Handbook to the Bible.

First though, some key dates.
The schism between Judah (the Southern Kingdom) and Israel (the Northern Kingdom) - 922BC
Israel carried off into exile to Assyria - 722BC
First deportation of Judah to Babylon - 597BC
Second deportation of Judah to Babylon - 586BC
Edict of return by Judah to Jerusalem - 538BC

with a message to - Judah
during the reigns of - Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah
when - 740 -700BC
Summary of message - Isaiah speaks to the nation under the threat of Assyrian invasion, preaching of God's righteousness, warning of the judgment on sin and comforting his people with the knowledge of God's love, His longing to forgive and telling of all the glories in store for those who remain faithful.

with a message to - Judah
during the reigns of - Josiah through to Zedekiah
when - 627 - 580BC
Summary of message - Jeremiah speaks to Jerusalem as they face the Babylonian invasion, warning them of the coming disaster and appealing to them to turn back to God.

Not one of the prophets, but a book found in their midst.  Probably written by Jeremiah.  The first four poems are written by an eye witness to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian army in 587BC.  The laments express a grief not simply over the suffering and humiliation of his people but over something far deeper and far worse, that God has rejected His people because of their sin.

with a message to - Judah
during - the period of exile
when - 593 -570BC
Summary of message - Ezekiel inspires the Judean exiles in the plains of Babylonia.  He sees God in all his awesome majesty, all seeing and all knowing and people's sin in all its blackness.  He carries the weight of one who must give warning to the individual concerning the danger of sin or else be held accountable - that we have individual accountability before God.

with a message to - Judah
during - the period of exile
when - 605 -530BC
Summary of message - Daniel serves God before the kings of Babylon and records a series of visions of future events.

with a message to - Israel
during the reigns of - Jereboam II until just before the fall of Israel to Assyria
when - 760 -730BC
Summary of message - Hosea expresses God's love to his faithless pople.  What Israel's idolatry means to God - how He continues to love and long for His people to return to Him - Hosea learns through bitter personal experience, as his own wife betrays and deserts him.

with a message to - Judah
during the reign of and when - unknown.  Dates range from the 8th century BC through to the 4th century BC, which is quite a range!
Summary of message - Joel picks up the theme of "the day of the Lord" when God will finally judge the world and its people.  It is a message of devastation and new life - a timeless message for all generations.

with a message to - Israel (Interestingly Amos was from Judah but sent by God to speak to Israel)
during the reigns of - Jereboam II until the fall to Assyria
when -  760BC
Summary of message -  Amos denounces the social and religious corruption present in Israel and warns of God's impending judgment.

with a message to - Edom
when - 500BC
Summary of message - Obadiah prophesies against Edom's pride.  Edom regards its strongholds as invincible.  Obadiah foretells the return of Israel to possess a greatly extended land including Edom.  (The Edomites are the descendants of Esau.)

with a message to -  Ninevah (in Assyria)
when - possibly 770BC
Summary of message - Jonah takes God's message to Ninevah and records the city's reprieve.

with a message to - Judah
during the reigns of - Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah
when - 737 - 690BC
Summary of message - Micah denounces Samaria and Jerusalem - the rulers, priests and prophets and also the corruption, dishonesty in business and religious sham present.  God's judgment will fall on Samaria and Jerusalem but Micah sees a glorious future when Jerusalem will become the religious centre of the world and Bethlehem will see the birth to a great David to rule over God's people.

with a message to - Ninevah (in Assyria)
when - 593 -570BC
Summary of message - Nahum prophesies against Ninevah and predicts its destruction.

with a message to - Judah
when - not entirely clear but close to the Babylonian invasion
Summary of message - Habakkuk debates God's justice, battling with the problem that while God's people seem to suffer, the wicked go free.  Current events face him with this problem in a particularly acute form.  God had announced that he will use the Babylonians - a far more wicked nation - to punish his own people.  Habakkuk, a man of faith, questions God.

with a message to - Judah
at the beginning of the reign of - Josiah
when - 627BC
Summary of message - Zephaniah pronounces God's judgment on Judah, prophecying immediately after the reigns of evil Manasseh and Amon and before Josiah launches his great programme of reform in 621BC.

with a message to - Judah
during - the return to Jerusalem after the exile
when - 520BC
Summary of message - Haggai gives encouragement to rebuild the temple - but it has permanant relevance because his concern is not only with the physical rebuilding of the temple but with restoring priorities.

with a message to - Judah
during - the return to Jerusalem after the exile
when - 520 - 518BC
Summary of message - Zechariah presents visions of judgment and glory.  He distils the wisdom of many of the earlier prophets and brings the events of the far future into sharper focus, including references to the Messiah (which are fulfilled in the life of Christ.)

with a message to - Judah
during - the return to Jerusalem after the exile
when - 460 - 430BC
Summary of message - Malachi recalls the people to right priorities, written either just before Nehemiah is made governor or during his absence later on.  Times are tough and the promised prosperity has not been realised.  The people feel let down and are showing an increasingly casual attitude towards worship and to the standards God has set.

[Photo from Microsoft Office Online Clip Art]

06 August 2010

But the older men wept

This week I have been reading Ezra.  The exiled Jews are returning to Jerusalem.  The first thing to be done is to rebuild the temple that was destroyed so that their worship of the LORD, as laid down by Moses, can recommence.   Once the foundation has been laid, Ezra describes the scene.

When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the LORD, as prescribed by David king of Israel. With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD :
"He is good;
his love to Israel endures forever."
And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. 
Ezra 3:10-13

That very tender verse of the older men weeping always stands out to me.  I looked in a few commentaries and there isn't a great deal written about it.  Mainly some thoughts that this verse brings into question the dating of Ezra.  And the fact that the men were not weeping for joy.

It could simply be that they were grieving the fact that this temple would never be as grand as the original.  The former temple that King David so dearly wanted to build for his LORD but didn't because God said, "No David, you have shed too much blood in your lifetime.  But I will grant your son a reign of peace and he can build it for me."  The temple that David carefully planned and for which he painstakingly gathered all the materials - timber from the cedar forests of Lebanon as well as gold, silver, iron, bronze and stone in incalculable quantities - and amassed workmen, craftsmen and artisans and all the money needed to see it built, ready for his son.  The temple that took Solomon seven years to build - the glory and splendour of which was renowned in all the lands.  The temple that was used as a place of worship but at other times was sickeningly defiled. The temple that was vilely desecrated and then tearfully, earnestly and reverently restored, time and again. The temple that was finally pillaged, burned and destroyed as the people of Judah were carried off into exile. 

Were the older men weeping because they could remember the old temple in all its glory?  Weeping because they knew the new temple would never match the grandeur of the former one?

Or does it go a little deeper?  Is it more than just about the building?  Are they weeping because this seemingly feeble attempt will not come close to the glory of the former temple - and therefore will not be worthy of the LORD they desire to worship within its walls?  Is there a heartfelt, conscience stricken grief that goes deeper than aesthetics?

A little time after the foundation is laid, Haggai the prophet comes to the people with a message from God, one that initially reflects the grief of the older men.

Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 
Haggai 2:3

But then he says,

'But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the LORD. 'Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the LORD, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
"This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty." 
Haggai 2:4-9

This "present house" is not a building, grand or otherwise, to be found in a city.  This "present house" is Jesus.  It is good to be reminded how deeply blessed we are to live this side of the cross - to know what happened next and how ultimately it didn't matter that the new foundation was built with smaller and inferior blocks of stone.  But as I draw close to the end of the history books in the Old Testament for this year, how very moving it is to picture the older men who had seen so much - the destruction of the temple, the exile, the return to Jerusalem and now the laying of a new foundation - standing there weeping in the midst of great rejoicing.

04 August 2010

Maybe tomorrow...

So much to say.  So little time to write anything down.  Maybe tomorrow.
But in the meantime, just letting you know that I have turned the comment moderation back on.  It isn't that I don't trust you.  You have all been very well behaved.  But I like to try to reply to most comments and it's just easier to keep track of them this way.

31 July 2010

The Garden and the Roast Dinner

Last year was The Year of the Garden
This year is The Year of the Roast
I thought it was about time I gave an update on both.

Almost exactly a year ago, amidst great fanfare, I put six plants in the garden bed.

I did a few other small bits and pieces but basically more plants were needed and that budget item never seemed to rise to the surface again.  The days turned to weeks.  The weeks turned to months.  And then it was Christmas.  And then it was the LONG, HOT, DRY summer.  Not a time to be establishing plants.  Then the rain came down.  Too wet to be outside.  Then the cold weather came.  Too cold to be outside. 
And all of a sudden a year had gone by!  However all six plants are still alive, with a few vincas on the edge and some winter weeds for good measure.

  100% of plants still alive after a whole year has to count for for some sort of gardening success. 
As for the pots of herbs...well, they didn't survive the LONG, HOT, DRY summer.

Feeling inspired last weekend with a free afternoon, a sunny winter's dayand  the promise of evening showers, it was off to the nursery to buy the next instalment of plants.

More daisies, more geraniums (can't believe I actually paid good money for geraniums...but I did get three different varieties and they look just lovely), lavender, rosemary and some new herbs.  And two strawberry plants chosen by the boys.

So the pots of herbs are reorganised and the garden bed is more fully planted out.  There's not much to see as yet.  The new plants are all pretty small.  Come back in spring for a peek when things are a bit more established.

As for The Year of the Roast, that has been humming along quite well.  I feel like I have the confidence to prepare and serve a roast dinner now however I have become convinced that it is not actually worth the bother my preferred style of cooking.  I like roasts - the veg and the meat.  But I'd be just as happy with roast lamb served with steamed veg and a baked potato.  And I quite like roast veg served alongside steak or chops.  But doing both together means getting started on dinner preparations at 4pm or earlier and that just doesn't fit in with our life here at the moment.  Or the fact that for almost all my entire adult cooking life, my cooking motto has been IF IT CAN'T BE COOKED AND ON THE TABLE IN UNDER 30 MINUTES IT WON'T BE HAPPENING IN THIS HOUSE.  So while I have worked out that I CAN do it, I don't think I'll be putting on too many roast dinners in the future. 
Interestingly, as I was reaching this conclusion just this week, I decided on one last tilt at the old roast dinner with a roast chicken - I've roasted chickens many times in the past and hey, roast chicken is the "bread and butter" of the roasts - but after the event I declared that I would never roast a chicken ever again.  Well, not while I live here anyway.  The end result was fine.  But I was reminded that I really don't like handling whole raw chickens with all that loose, flappy chicken skin where their necks used to be and having to deal with the stray feathers.  It turns my stomach just thinking about it.  (Sooky sooky la la, I know.)  And you see, we have a shop around the corner from us that cooks decent sized chickens over a wood fire.  They are the same size as home roasted ones, delicious, carve beautifully and come in at about the same price as roasting one at home.  It's a no brainer.

Really, to my mind, the best sort of roast dinner is the one that someone else cooks.  So it seems that The Year of the Roast has become The Six Months of the Roast.  And now I may just need a new project - but no, sweet Helen, it won't be quilting!

25 July 2010

Do not fight against the Lord

First there was King David - and God promised to David that his kingdom would reign forever.  David was followed by his son Solomon.  Then came Solomon's son Rehoboam, whose very early actions resulted in the splitting of Israel into two kingdoms - Judah and Israel (all of the tribes of Israel other than Judah...and David came from the tribe of Judah.)  Rehoboam's reign had mixed success - at times he humbled himself before the LORD and at other times he worshipped other gods.  Notably though, his reign was marked by constant warfare with Jereboam, the king of Israel.

After Rehoboam's death his son Abijah became king and he picked up the mantle of being at war with Jereboam.  So there stands Abijah, new king of Judah.  He has an army of 400 000 fighting men.  That's quite a lot, except that Jereboam has an army of 800 000 able troops.  What is Abijah to do?  He stood on Mount Zemaraim and made this magnificent speech, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 13:4-12.

Jeroboam and all Israel, listen to me!  Don't you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?  Yet Jeroboam son of Nebat, an official of Solomon son of David, rebelled against his master. Some worthless scoundrels gathered around him and opposed Rehoboam son of Solomon when he was young and indecisive and not strong enough to resist them.

And now you plan to resist the kingdom of the LORD, which is in the hands of David's descendants. You are indeed a vast army and have with you the golden calves that Jeroboam made to be your gods. But didn't you drive out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and make priests of your own as the peoples of other lands do? Whoever comes to consecrate himself with a young bull and seven rams may become a priest of what are not gods.

As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God. But you have forsaken him. God is with us; he is our leader. His priests with their trumpets will sound the battle cry against you.  Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.

Men of Israel, do not fight against the LORD, the God of your fathers, for you will not succeed.  And succeed they did not.

Abijah and his men inflicted heavy losses on them, so that there were five hundred thousand casualties among Israel's able men.  The men of Israel were subdued on that occasion, and the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their fathers.  (2 Chronicles 13:17,18)

I am humbled by Abijah's faith and complete confidence in God and by God's power and might to see His will done.

21 July 2010

The Parents' Prayer Programme - Take Two

So, the other day I particularly enjoyed one of the prayers on the Parents' Prayer Programme and thought I would make mention of it here on the blog.  However when I returned to my post featuring this programme I discovered that Bob Hostetler's original was ordered and worded slightly differently - and if you were following along using that programme, it would bear no resemblance to the prayer I prayed this particular morning.  Which just goes to show that you should never blindly cut and paste without doing a little proofreading!!  So below is the version I use and have used for the last ten or so years.  To my thinking, the language in the version presented below is a little easier.  Maybe that's just because I have been using this tool for so long.   Either one will provide you with a good solid set of prayers to pray for your children, your loved ones or yourself.  Using either one in prayer will be time well spent.  But just for the record, the one I use is this one, not the other one.  Happy praying!!

1. Salvation
Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
(Isa 45:8, 2 Tim 2.:10)

2. Growth in Grace
I pray that they may “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
(2 Peter 3.18)

3. Love
Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love through the Spirit who dwells in them.
(Ephesians 5.2,Galatians 5.22)

4. Honesty and Integrity
May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.
(Psalm 25.21)

5. Self-control
Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be “alert and self-controlled” in all they do.
(1 Thessalonians 5.6)

6. A love for God’s Word
May my children grow to find your Word “more precious than gold, than much pure gold; [and] sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.”
(Psalm 19.10)

7. Justice
God, help my children to love justice as you do and to “act justly” in all they do.
(Psalm 11.7, Micah 6.8)

8. Mercy
May my children always “be merciful as [their] Father is merciful.”
(Luke 6.36)

9. Respect (for self, others, authority)
Father, grant that my children may “show proper respect to everyone” as your word commands.
(1 Peter 2.17)

10. Strong, Biblical Self-esteem
Help my children develop a strong self esteem that is rooted in the realisation that they are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2.10)

11. Faithfulness
“Let love and faithfulness never leave [my children],” but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.
(Proverbs 3.3)

12. A Passion for God
Lord, please instil in my children a soul with a craving for you, a heart that clings passionately to you.
(Psalm 63.8)

13. Responsibility
Grant that my children may learn responsibility, “for each one should carry his own load.”
(Galatians 6.5)

14. Kindness
Lord, may my children “always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”
(1 Thessalonians 5.15)

15. Generosity
Grant that my children may "be generous and willing to share [& so] lay  up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.”
(1 Tim 6.18-19)

16. Peace, peacability
Father, let my children “make every effort to do what leads to peace.”
(Romans 14.19)

17. Hope
May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15.13)

18. Perseverance
Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to “run with perseverance the race marked out for [them].” (Hebrews 12.1)

19. Humility
Lord, please cultivate in my children the ability to “show true humility toward all.”
(Titus 3.2)

20. Compassion
Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.
(Colossians 3.12)

21. Prayerfulness
Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
(Ephesians 6.18)

22. Contentment
Father, teach my children “the secret of being content in any and every situation ... through him who gives [them] strength.”
(Philippians 4.12-13)

23. Faith
I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.
(Luke 17.5-6, Hebrews 11.1-40)

24. A Servant Heart
Lord, please help my children develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly “as if [they] were serving the Lord, not men.”
(Ephesians 6.7)

25. Purity
“Create in [them] a pure heart, O God,” and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions.
(Psalm 51.10)

26. A Willingness and Ability to Work Hard
Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, “as working for the Lord, not for men.”
(Colossians 3.23)

27. Self-discipline
Father, I pray that my children may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire “a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.”
(Proverbs 1.3)

28. A Heart for Missions
Lord, please help my children to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvellous deeds among all peoples.
(Psalm 96.3)

29. Joy
May my children be filled “with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
(1 Thessalonians 1.6)

30. Courage
May my children always “be strong and courageous” in their character and in their actions.
(Deuteronomy 31.6)