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

30 October 2014

Thankfulness

 
Most merciful Father, we humbly thank you
for all your gifts so freely bestowed on us.
For life and health and safety, for power to work and leisure to rest,
and for all that is beautiful in creation and in the lives of men,
we praise and glorify your holy name.
But, above all, we thank you
for your spiritual mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for the means of grace,
and for the hope of glory.
Fill our hearts with all joy and peace in believing;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen
 
(From An Australian Prayer Book p.36)
 

29 October 2014

Spring update - 2014


Spring: came early this year, if hayfever is the indicator, which hit unusually early in August this time around.  Ah well.  The flowers have been pretty.

Reading: the Bible from my plan again.  It is good to be back in the swing of things again.  I am currently in Jeremiah and at the end of Romans, heading into the Pauline epistles - happy days.  


Anticipating: reading Lila  by Marilynne Robinson.  I keep seeing its gorgeous cover all over the bits of the Internet I frequent and wanting to get straight into it.  But I'm saving it for the summer.  I've ordered a copy though and it's on the way. 

In anticipation: I'm reading Ms Robinson's Gilead by way of preparation.  I know.  It's fiction and it's term time.  Apart from the things I need to read for study and preparation purposes I don't seem to be able to quite settle into anything at the moment.  My concentration span seems to have eroded in recent times.

Watching: Downton Abbey.  Have I mentioned how much I love Downton Abbey?  Oh yes, I have.  Got all the way through it, took a couple of weeks off and watched it through again.  And have just started it again, this time with my husband in tow.  Yay!  I still don't like Thomas the Footman.  Or Sir Richard Carlisle for that matter.  Wondering, wondering when series five is coming to Australia. 

Also wondering: if there is a link between the eroded reading concentration span thing and watching DVDs all the time...

Experiencing: life with without a dishwasher.  I'd never had one until kind friends bought us one about seven years ago and it has been a faithful friend in the kitchen since then - a time saver and a means of keeping the kitchen bench tidy during the day.  But a few weeks ago a strong wind blew a tree onto a power line around the corner taking the power out for about six hours and with it, our dishwasher.  We haven't been having lots of people over for meals of late - must get back into that - so it hasn't been a real drama.  But it will be worth replacing down the track. #firstworldproblem

Filled in: the calendar for the next two months.  Filled it up quite comprehensively.  I feel thankful to God for the full lives we have, for energy and health to do all that we need to do, for the great community we are glad to call home and that I don't feel overwhelmed as I survey the coming weeks.  One day at a time has been a good lesson to learn.

In the very early stages: of preparing a talk for a gingerbread house event at church.  Have you ever wondered about the significance of the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus?  That's the line I'm following.

Better go: and attend to today.  And dear reader, may you know how richly God has already blessed you as you travel through your day today.

24 October 2014

I'm planning to read the Bible next year...

...and I already have in mind the plan I am planning to use.  You may think next year is too far away to be making such plans. 

But if perchance you have big plans for your Bible reading in 2015 here's my tip for the day.  Start now.  Today.  I don't mean starting your 2015 reading plan today - although if you did you could certainly get well ahead and avoid the need for catching up later on if things don't go quite to plan...  No, I mean start reading the Bible today.  Because research shows (actually, I have no empirical data to back this up) that if the Bible reading habit isn't there, doing all that New Year's resolution stuff probably isn't going to help beyond January.  So start today, form the habit and be up and running by the beginning of the new year.

Want some reading ideas to see you through to January? 

You could read one or more of the gospels in the lead up to Christmas.  John plus one of the others is always a good combo. 
Reading Luke and Acts - one running on from the other - is a great project. 
Or read John, the letters of John and Revelation.  Being familiar with the language and themes of John adds an extra layer of richness when you tackle Revelation
An interesting Old Testament project is to read Ezra and Nehemiah (the history books covering the return from the exile) with (and this is the bit that makes it super interesting) their accompanying prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi - the  last bit of Old Testament action before all goes quiet leading up to Jesus.
And if you need some Psalms, numbers 90 to 100 are pressed down, shaken together and running over (Lk 6:38) with adoration, grace, joy and pastoral care.

Go well.  The best book to read is the Bible.

05 October 2014

Understanding, appreciation and the source of all joy

We seem often to forget that salvation [through Christ] from sin and eternal destruction is a blessing of such magnitude that we should rejoice even if God never blessed us in any other way.

That quote was in my last post and its words just keep running through my head.  It encourages me to apprehend the significance of Jesus with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and reminds me to be to be abundantly grateful for everything else in this life.  These are good words.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The quote is from Roger Ellsworth in They Echoed the Voice of God: Reflections on the Minor Prophets from his chapter on Habakkuk with addition from me. 

03 October 2014

Bookends and the minor prophets

On most Monday evenings I will be found in the front room of our house with two really gorgeous women, cups of tea at the ready, reading the Bible à la One to One Bible Reading.  We've been doing this for a few years, on and off.  This year we set ourselves what in hindsight has been an absolutely marvelous plan.  We decided to read the bookends of the Bible - Genesis and Revelation - and then work our way through the minor prophets. 

Given some basic understanding of what happens in between these books, reading the bookends really does provide the grand sweep of the big picture of God's loving plan for His creation. We have been amazed time and time again at God's amazing mercy, grace and love for His people and at the rate of about three chapters per week, we will read the final three chapters of Revelation in a week's time.

Tacking the minor prophets on the end was a bit random.  We just decided it would be good to do a closer reading of these neglected little books.  That was it.  But it turns out that having looked closely at what happened right at the beginning in Genesis and then understanding what is happening now (and what we need to do about it) and what will happen when Jesus comes again in Revelation provides the perfect backdrop for reading the minor prophets - books that are full of warnings to repent before the coming judgment and words about the glory and the horror of the Last Day.  We couldn't be better prepared for the old minor prophets.

Are you looking for an interesting reading project?  This is it.  And as much as I LOVE my Bible reading plan it is good to read the first chapter of Genesis at a time other than 1st January.  Sometimes fresh eyes are helpful.

I've started doing a bit of pre-reading for the minors and found these great words from They Echoed the Voice of God: Reflections on the Minor Prophets by Roger Ellsworth on dear old Habakkuk.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17,18

Here is a vital question for each of us to consider:  Do we draw our happiness from our circumstances or from the Lord? 

We can surely see the importance of this question.  If we insist on finding our happiness in our circumstances, our lives will be like rollercoasters.  We will be happy one moment and sad the next.  Why?  Because our circumstances are constantly changing.


But if we find our happiness in the Lord, we will always be happy.  The Lord never changes.

I would probably change the word "happy" for "joy" in at least a couple of places - a minor detail.  And later in the same chapter...

We seem often to forget that salvation from sin and eternal destruction is a blessing of such magnitude that we should rejoice even if God never blessed us in any other way.

Now that is something to ponder.

--------------------------------------------------------
 
Speaking of Revelation, did I mention two weeks ago that I would do a prize draw for a copy of A Gospel Pageant and that I would announce a winner a week ago?  Oops!  The number of those in the draw was small.  Two.  And as it happens I have three left over copies of the book.  So Sarah and Wendy, a copy each coming your way at some stage soon.