When did Father Christmas make his debut?
Christmas is a celebration that is steeped in both Christian and pagan traditions.
Time has fused them together until there is no line of demarcation. Should a Christian try to draw battle lines, they are heavily laden with guilt. They are told that Christianity is only a kill-joy, depriving children of the wonder and fantasy of Christmas.
So, the question arises, why try to separate the Christian and the pagan? What is wrong with this marriage of convenience? Then there is the question of culture? To what extent does a Christian adopt national culture as opposed to the culture of the Kingdom? But then, what is national culture when Christmas is deeply rooted in European culture? Who then can be eulogised as the Christmas Man? Santa Claus, saint Nicholas, Father Christmas or Jesus Christ.
In the fourth century, Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, Asia Minor. It is believed that many of his long voyages across the sea, he calmed and stilled several storms, earning the title of Patron Saint of Sailors. Legend says he saved three maidens from prostitution by providing them with a dowry, so they were able to marry well. He then became Patron Saint of Maidens. Another legend concerning Saint Nicholas is told of how he raised three boys from the dead. He is best known for his kindness to poor children of the time.
Todays Father Christmas has become the alto-ego of Saint Nicholas, and champions the poor and distributes gifts and largess. While much good is done in the name of Father Christmas, his power is vicarious. Parents are prepared to borrow large sums of money to buy their children miracles in the name of Father Christmas. Nearly everyone during the Christmas period gives gifts in the name of an alto-ego. Why not give gifts openly in the name of Jesus Christ?
Truth is always stranger than fiction. The strange truth is that God sent a Christmas Man. A man who would put Christmas into the heart of man forever. So, the Christmas could be experienced every day by everyone. The poor would have a champion; miracles would happen, women would have a provider, and the dead could be raised.
This Man began life as a babe in a dirty manger, wrapped in bandages or perhaps even rags. This Man draws no crowd, no tinsel is erected to welcome him. Just a few shepherds called at the stable and several magi surreptitiously brought three gifts. Only the heavens burst open to reveal choirs of angels singing undreamt of melodies of praise. Brilliant pure light streamed from the sky.
THE CHRISTMAS MAN
This Christmas Man became a death trap for a generation of baby boys, as a power-hungry Roman Emperor sought to destroy him. The nation of Israel was in mourning rather than rejoicing. Where was the spirit of love, joy, peace and good will, that was to follow this child? No Christmas Pageant here, only a pageant of death as hundreds of funeral biers wound their way to the cemetery.
This poverty-stricken child bore the names of Emmanuel, God with us and Jesus, He shall save his people. Incredible names, hinting at his origins and calling; his responsibilities and power.
This God with us; this Saver of his people, Jesus Christ, is God’s gift to humanity. God presented his precious Son to humanity stripped of fame, $200.00-dollar Italian suits, and Hilton Hotels, so mankind could see the reality of Jesus. There could be no pretence. People cannot bear the plain unadulterated truth. We must always seek the fantasy, adorning truth and reality with pretence, so missing the freedom that truth brings.
Jesus is truth, yet he has been made a fantasy man. Father Christmas, the fantasy man is given the position of truth. There is a small cathedral outside of Bethlehem that marks the birth place of Jesus. Behind the alter in the church is a cave lit with silver lamps. You can enter and admire the ancient building. The cave can be entered and a star embedded into the floor to mark the birth place of Jesus. This reverence to the place of birth rather than the Man just bears out the importance we place on fantasy rather than truth.
THE UNSPEAKABLE GIFT
The miracles that Jesus does far outweighs anything that Saint Nicholas or his alto-ego can do. As for maidens in distress, Jesus offers not a dowry for marriage but a new heart, a new life, a new protector. During a mission many years ago, a fallen woman was touched by God. As she heard of how much God loved her, her hardness of heart was broken up and she wept buckets of tears. She discovered the purity of virginity again. Jesus had cleansed, forgiven, given her a new heart, and made her a new woman. Jesus had given this woman something far more precious than a dowry. This woman enjoyed Christmas every day.
Jesus was the unspeakable gift of God. He came carrying the unsearchable riches of God. These gifts are not material, but relational, pertaining to character and the heart. To receive, one must believe in Jesus and the Saver of his people. There are no conditions other than faith. The greatest of the gifts Jesus gives to the believer is eternal life. That is why when we choose Jesus, the gift of God, we have Christmas in our hearts forever.
When Bad Things happen to Good People.
How do we, as Christians who believe in a loving, just, and good God, cope when tragic things happen to us? I found myself in this situation when the doctor told me that our 15 week old unborn baby was going to die. It was like a nightmare and certainly something that happens to other families. But it happened to my husband and me. The baby had developed major chromosomal abnormalities when, soon after conception, the chromosomes didn’t divide correctly. I was told that he (we later discovered he was a boy) would have major intellectual and physical disabilities and would most likely die before my due date. How does one walk that journey? I found comfort in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God...” I looked to other Christian material to find guidance but mostly found stories about healing. There was no guide to navigate this tragedy. But we know that healing doesn’t happen to everyone. Faithful Christians have died in car and plane crashes and from cancer. I studied tragedy and suffering in the bible and found that there was plenty of it. As Christians we aren’t wrapped in cotton wool and made immune to it. God showed me a picture of a T-junction and seemed to be asking me to choose either His way of getting through this or the opposite, the world’s way. His way was to trust Him to strengthen and sustain me. I chose His way and, to my delight, found that my faith went from strength to strength. I learnt to cling to God in a way I’d never needed to before. Ten days after the first diagnosis the baby was born. He was about 20 cm long and red all over. Half of his stomach was in his umbilical chord and had a large fluid-filled sac on his neck. He was wrapped up in a little blanket and Johannes and I held him and thought of all the potential that would never be. We named him Peter. I took comfort in the fact that Peter’s abnormalities were so bad he was better off not to have lived. We said goodbye and left him at the hospital the next day. We already had two young sons so I had to focus on the day-to-day realities of looking after them, which probably helped. We held a memorial service at our Church soon after. Friends were wonderfully supportive with kind words, hugs, cards, and flowers. One lady gave me a piece of great advice; to grieve fully and not try to suppress it. I read lots about grief and the various stages one goes through. Three years later we had another son who was completely healthy. Now they are all growing up fast, with two at high school and one at primary school. Kaye Palmer , Adelaid
Seek treasure. Christopher and Robert, two blonde-haired boys of six and eight years of age, sons of my best friend, were an imaginative pair.
They were rich and in possession of a treasure chest of gold and jewels beyond rich. The treasure chest was theirs because they had fought the pirates and won the treasure. They had it all.
Two pairs of blue eyes glowed with the fire of adventure as they dug a hole on a sandy beach under a palm tree on an island in the Ocean of Nowhere. They marked the spot X on a map they had made of crocodile skin.
A battle with the enemy ensued. Chris and Rob had hidden in the jungle but alas the angry pirates discovered them. The two boys fought to the last breath. They were left battered, bleeding and bruised, but the enemy were all dead to a man.
The dream faded. The treasure vanished. All that was left were pieces of broken tile, bits of timber, a plastic runnel and scraps of rubber. The tropical island faded to become a suburban backyard, filled with the paraphernalia of a family. The ordinary took over.
There is a treasure that doesn’t vanish, that doesn’t tarnish, that never loses its value. A wealth that lights up our life with joy, love, peace. In today’s world of mental illness, homelessness and poverty, these are treasures that glow white-hot in the darkness.
Where do we find this treasure? The map is the Bible. It will tell us all we need to know about how to find the treasure. The treasure I’m talking about is Jesus, God’s Son. When we have Jesus, we have everything, untapped treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Thought for the Day: For where your heart is, there will be your treasure.
During the first two-three years of being in charge of the Aboriginal Children’s Home in Oodnadatta, South Australia, Ruth Bulpitt had a tough time.
Because Ruth worked amongst the Aboriginal people, the white folk of the town wouldn’t have anything to do with her. ‘What’s the use of looking after the niggers?’ they’d say.
Here is an extract from her biography, A Very fortunate Life. “I’d go down to the Australian Inland Mission and introductions to different white people who visited would happen. There were no barriers; we were all friendly. Everyone talked to me while I was at the hostel but once out on the street; it was another matter. I would walk along the street doing the shopping and say; ‘Hello,’ to this one or that one who I met at the Mission and they would have nothing to do with me. They would cross the street to avoid me, wouldn’t even answer me. Being shunned was the way of life as House Mother to a group of Aboriginal children without parents or Home or anyone to care for them. Until the Education Department agreed that the children could attend the Primary School.
Later, when the children from the camps were allowed to participate at the public school. Some of them, I remember, used to come to me to see if they were adequately dressed and acceptable to go to school. They would bathe and change clothes at the Home before going to school; then, after school, they would return to the Home, change clothes and return to camp leaving their school clothes at the Home until tomorrow. This arrangement worked very well.
Sometimes a child would be missing because he or she had to go bush with the parents. But it did mean that camp children were able to get quite a decent education.
There was no antagonism between the black and white children once they went to the school together.
This anecdote is a picture of God and the way of the world. God is shunned; people walk on the other side of the road to avoid him. The people he created, whom he loved extravagantly and desired that no barrier would exist despise him and do their best to ignore him. The ultimate purpose of Jesus was to break down the walls and reconcile us to God in a close, personal, intimate relationship.
Thought for the Day: Sin was the barrier that stood between mankind and God. Jesus tore that barrier down by taking our sin on himself.
Fiona Costello, guest writer
I have always felt that there is nothing on this earth that can beat the soul restoring properties which come when we let go of the constraints of modern society and join with nature. As the last few years have been full of full-time study, working, renovating, being a mum, having students, nearly losing my son and so on, I have often neglected taking time out for myself. As I sat thinking about this I remembered a time (a while ago) when I was out with my kayak enjoying the freedom of the Gulf. The craft was cutting smoothly through the crisp clean water and I took a moment to raise my face up to the sky, enjoying the contrast of the warm sunlight and cooling breeze on my face. The rhythmic strokes of the paddle kept the craft skimming along at a fair pace when to my delight I caught a glimpse of a dolphin out of the corner of my eye heading swiftly towards me. I smiled as he came up and matched his pace to mine and for about five minutes we slid as one through the water in quiet companionship. Till with a flip of his nose, as if to say goodbye, he turned and sped off. It was like he said 'I've had my break and now I have to go catch my dinner'! I smiled as I watched him slowly disappear into the horizon. Why is it that animals have this perfect balance of work and play that we humans often forget? Why is it that when we get 'off the grind stone’, even if only for a brief moment and spend time with God's creation, we feel refreshed and invigorated? More often than not though we find ourselves working at a furious pace, running around like ants that have been disturbed; taking the kids to sport, activities, coffee with friends, working, cleaning, cooking, making money to pay for our wants, getting frazzled, endlessly grinding away...We seem to be trying to get to the end of the journey when God said that it is the journey itself that is important - 'I came to give you life and life more abundantly'. We need to learn to enjoy the journey we are on. As I work in a high stress industry I know full well how easy it is to get caught up running frantically from crisis to crisis, constantly feeling stressed and using food – or for some people alcohol, cigarettes and or drugs, as a way of coping with our stress, but in reality these things actually add more stress to our mind, body and spirit, instead of helping us enjoy life. The question is: are we living an abundant life, savouring the journey, or trying to get to the end as fast as we can? The thing is, too much prolonged stress can kill or seriously disrupt your health. But on the other hand taking time out to relax and unwind can increase your health, happiness, and prospect of a long fulfilling life, my question to myself is why don't I take time out more often, to stop and enjoy life? That is the question I have been asking myself and one I intend to change, to take time out each week for myself and my family, I know I'm worth it, so are you and the benefits are truly amazing!
Luxury Apartments where people stay for a taste of the good life. Or maybe they live there on a permanent basis.
What’s in a name?
Biblically speaking, there is plenty in the meaning of a name.
Out of curiosity, I decided to look up the meaning of the name Gweneth. I discovered that Gweneth was a Welsh name. It means blessed. People with the name are supposed to have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership. It’s called ‘soul urge’.
I don’t believe the meaning of my name has anything to do with my character. But I have longed to feel blessed, and be fair and good-looking. I have a deep desire or soul urge to use my abilities in the service of God. So perhaps I have lived up to my name.
What’s in a name you ask?
What’s in the name of Jesus?
The name of Jesus means ‘deliverer’, ‘rescuer’. It is a Hebrew name. From the moment Jesus was conceived, his name was to be Jesus, he would save his people. From his birth, his mission was to save we humans from our bondage to sin. He was to rescue us from our separation from the Father. Jesus bore many names referring to his royalty, such as ‘Wonderful’, ‘Counsellor,’ ‘The Mighty God,’ ‘Prince of Peace.’ He fulfilled all these names. His soul urge was to save the world. Not all the worls wants to be saved. The world wants to do its own thing, its own way. The worls uses its soul urge on its self and rejects Jesus and his saving work.
There is no other name we can call upon to rescue us, to deliver us, to restore us and make us new people. Remember the name of Jesus. Jesus saves any and everyone who calls on his name.
Thought for the Day: Experience is the name we give our mistakes.’ Oscar Wilde.
Guest Writer - Carly Bennet
Mums Keep Going
You are doing a wonderful job.
Hi my name is Carly; I am a wife of almost six years to Michael and a mother of five. Michael is a research agronomist at the Minnipa Agricultural Centre, South Australia.
Abbey just turned 5 (but not at school yet), Jamie is 3½, Lauren is 2 and Jake and Alex are my 1 year old twins. We live in a tiny town called Minnipa on the Eyre Peninsula with a population of around 100.
If you’re wondering where Minnipa is, it’s approximately 6 hours drive west of Adelaide, but more like 8-10 hours with little children! Michael’s family are living in Adelaide and my family are in Sydney, yes I am a city girl. Since having the twins we have had many exciting and memorable times and some very hairy times. We thought we were busy before, but I think busy has now been recalibrated.
I have three children in cloth nappies and three children not walking. Lauren is hyper flexible which has delayed her walking. I feel as though I have three babies. Before you start thinking that I am a super woman/super mum and think that you could never do that, I would like you to jot down on a piece of paper the same kinds of points I did, but about yourself. You will be amazed at your achievements and how far God has bought you. I believe more and more that God has made mothers truly amazing. amazing. They go above and beyond the call of duty, they continue to care for their children when they feel as though they could not muster one more ounce of caring, then nurture when they have not slept, brushed their teeth, or showered. A simple hug from their children can reassure and encourage a burnt out mess of a woman that it is all worth while and okay.
With little children around, mothers get stressed because their house often looks like a bomb has hit and you can’t catch up. It’s only for a season. What encourages me a lot was remembering a question that my mother asked me over the phone one day when I was teary about the state of my house and the fact that she was 1,800 km away. Do you remember what your house looked like (in terms of neatness) before you were 5 years old? No I didn’t, I replied. Well what makes you think that your children will be any different? They will remember your love and the fun times that they had. Don’t be hard on yourself. God is slowly working on me to be less hard on myself. Some days I do better than others. Rest assured God is in control and everything will be okay. Take courage! “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:
“Your Healing will spring forth speedily … (Isa 58:8) speedily … (Isa 58:8)
“Push!” commanded Doctor and midwife in chorus. “One for Norwood” called my cheerleader-cum-husband. In the third day of labour, weary, yet determined, I pushed, and felt the baby slide out of my tired body into the hands of the waiting staff! “It’s a boy!” My mother, waiting back at the house, cried with relief. His father scooped him up the second the staff released him and laid him in my arms. The love we both felt for this tiny mite was overwhelming. “Look at the length of his fingers, he’ll be a pianist for sure” some-one prophesied. “He’ll be tall” commented another. “He measures 20 inches already!” A week later he came home to his newly decorated orange and yellow nursery. It was the 70’s! My Mum returned home, life settled into its new routine, and I began the visits to the Infant Welfare sister. He was five weeks old when she noticed his foot. There had been some comment when he was born about a possible clubbed foot, but it was considered mild, something to be dealt with somewhere down the track. This day though, as he lay naked on the scales she was concerned. His right foot lay pointing at right angles and resisted her outward push. “That foot is bad” she said “I think you should show this to the doctor. It needs immediate attention. “What will they do?” I enquired fearfully. “Probably put him in a plaster cast for about six months” she said. Six months! It was August now and we lived in the Riverland. How would he cope in the heat? I returned home and told his father. We would pray. At that stage we were relatively new Christians, and had never prayed for healing before, so it was two timid people, feeling slightly foolish who lay the babe on our bed and laid our hands on our son. Our two adult hands covered his whole torso! “Lord, I feel a bit silly doing this” his father prayed, “but if you can, will you please heal Dale.” It was two days before I could get into the doctors. I reported what the nurse had said, so he stripped the babe and checked him over, saying nothing. He then turned to me and said “Come on it’s near enough to your six week check-up I’ll do you first and then I’ll have another look at him,” puzzled, I complied. When he finished he picked up the babe again and bent his legs frog like up and out, then he lifted his head to ask, “Which foot was it?” This was our first experience of God’s healing power through our own personal prayer.
A POEM by LYN ARTHUR
A child, not yet two - and yet ...
I bore him, he is mine ...
Or so my heart would want.
Yet in that small boy
Lies a destiny far beyond my reach.
I love him; I hold him;
I call him my own.
My home is his home;
My God is his God.
Yet in all of this I am so small.
I mold, but life makes.
I dream, but time creates realities
Some day a man, now a child.
Mine to hold, but God's to have.
In caring for older people, the carers' are encouraged to touch them on the shoulder, the hand, the arm. The caress, whether we are old or young, is so vital in making a person feel wanted, needed, loved, and esteemed of worth. Older people become isolated for many reasons and are not touched.
A woman after her husband had passed away, confided that the most significant thing she missed was the touch of her husband.
Jesus touched many people and healed them. Nothing has changed, Jesus still affects people, and they are repaired, restored, in spirit and body. Jesus desires contact with us more than we want his touch. Jesus touch still heals today.
When God touches us, we recognize how empty we are and how deeply we yearn for a touch that is more than a brief meeting.
Jesus death was a means to open the door for God to win us, to touch us, heal us, give us n abundance of life. There is so much fulness, completeness in the touch of God. When we reach out and touch God’s heart, we are overwhelmed by a love so unfathomable we can only surrender ourselves and live for his touch.
Thought for the Day: I feel the healing hands of God, touch my heart and kiss my soul.’ Harley King.
I have faith that the marmalade jam I have prepared and have on the stove cooking and which I am stirring is going to become marmalade.
I have followed the recipe to the last comma; the color is light, the bubbles are rising and breaking with a gluggy plop. My faith is in my preparation, the length of time spent cooking, the amount of sugar content and pectin. All these elements I have faith in should reward me with excellent tasting marmalade.
God loves faith. He wants us to respond to him in faith and enjoy his presence. To enjoy the Lord, we must first believe that he is a living person. If we cannot find him and accept him, we will never see him, know him, or enjoy him.
If we commit ourselves to him and take a risk by committing to a person we can’t see, what will the outcome be? The answer will be yes; we can step out trust God because he rewards them that believe in him.
God has promised us a life of abundance, joy, peace, everlasting life, protection and provision. It all rests on us taking a risk and putting our faith in him. God will be happy; we will be satisfied. The world will be a better place and heaven more prosperous.
Thought for the Day: ‘Faith activates God – fear activates the enemy.’ Joel Osteen
On average, according to jamesclear.com, it takes about 66 days to change a habit and replace it with another.
It is OK to change a pattern but it has to be replaced with a new and better practice, otherwise what is the use.
We can re-invent ourselves, which gives us a great deal of satisfaction, but unfortunately, it still cuts no ice with God. If we are thinking of pleasing God and getting right with him, we need a different mindset.
To be reprogramed or re-invented, we need to take on Jesus. He clothes us with his perfections, fills us with himself. For us to be this new person, we need to be born again. We need to accept Jesus and filled with him. When he lives in us and we in him God is pleased, he gladly accepts us as his beloved children and brings us into his presence, his throne room.
Such re-invention doesn’t require 66 days; It only takes as long as we can say, Jesus, I accept you as my rescuer. I give my life to you. I want you to live in me and I in you.’
Once we decide to be a child of God, no more effort is required of us to make ourselves better. Christ has done it all for us on the cross. We can say in all truth that we died with Christ: and that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
Thought for the Day: ‘Feeling sorry for yourself and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could ever have.’ Dale Carnegie
Take a break. When I used to cut apricots for drying, it was tiring and repetitive work, we received so much money per tray of halved apricots. It was necessary to pace myself if I wanted to earn a decent amount of money. I worked out that I needed to cut a tray of fruit every five minutes. My cutting knife almost grew into my hand. Apricot cutters didn't take breaks. Taking a break meant a loss of 50 cents a tray.
God made the universe in six days; then he took a break. When Jesus hung on the cross and darkness covered the land, God again took a break – a love break. He so loved the world he gave Jesus. When we are born again, we are accepting God's love-break, and are stopping and accepting Jesus as our rescuer.
We need to keep taking love-breaks to tell Jesus how much we love him in return for him loving us enough to die for us.
Have you taken a love break yet? Sit down in a quiet place and spend a few minutes meditating on the scriptures we read each day and thank him for his life in you.
Thought for the Day: Sometimes, good things fall apart so that little things fall into place.
A secret Life…
It seems everything has a secret life, even plants. A curious scientist is needed to unravel those secrets.
The gardener may have certain suspicions about the secret life of plants, trees and water.
We never document those suspicions thinking they are granny's tales and fearful of being considered crazy.
The book titled 'The Secret Life of Plants' by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird documents their experiments into the secret life of plants. The authors claim plants are emotional and respond to stimuli such as music.
Helen Pitcher writes that plants hear and react positively to classical music, while responding negatively to rock and roll. Helen Pitcher claims that cress plants ramp up levels of defensive chemicals when exposed to the sound of a chomping caterpillar. In contrast, the sound of wind or the song of insects prompts no reaction.
Does all this sound like a pipe dream? I am not a curious scientist.
Plants do have a mind of their own though, as any gardener knows. Provide plants with suitable soil, enough water and nutrients, and they will grow. That is common sense.
On the other hand, I have observed trees grow out of sheer rock faces; I am left marvelling at the tenacity and determination to overcome any obstacle and live.
There is another aspect, and that is the secret life of faith. My faith in particular. My faith is like a plant, the seed of faith was planted in my heart. It grew as does a plant, my faith blossomed for the world to see as does the flower that blossoms. As a full blown blossom so today is my faith.
Jesus, Son of God, said, 'My words are life.' This quote can be read in full in John 6: 63. Further, 'the Word of God is spirit and life. 'The Word of God is 'living and active.' For the full-text Hebrews 4: 12. God’s Word is powerful and dynamic and imparts life to us who believe. God’s Word acts like nutrients and water does to the plant. His word informs us, about him, given free reign it encourages us, nurtures us, and strengthens us. We are able to not only cope with life live fully and abundantly.
God’s most life-changing Word is, 'For God so loved' … me that he gave Jesus his only son to die that I might live. God's whispers of love spoken in secret to my heart explode into life, just as plants do when they are lovingly nurtured with water, nutrients and light.
My life was changed overnight by his Word. God said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' I took God at his Word and embraced his plan for my life. I believed that His Word is truth and not only his Word, but he is truth. Because I accept his Word, I am filled with his Life and power. I now live freely and richly in his care and provision.
As plants respond to loving care, so I respond to God's loving care. He provides for me what I need; he nurtures me with his Word. He loves me unconditionally. He is my all, in all.
FLOODS, EROSION, WASHAWAYS
Ancient, gnarled red gum trees line the banks of the River Murray.
The roots of these trees are exposed by years of flooding; eventually, the trees topple into the river
to become snags to river traffic.
The trees do not succumb easily to the onslaught on their roots by flood or storm; their root system has grown deep into the earth, they are anchored by their taproot.
When I was a volunteer, working in the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden nursery, I took over the job of growing seedlings. The seeds of most Eucalypts are as fine a pepper.
There would spring two tiny leaves from seeds that appeared to be as pepper, and when the seedling was about an inch high, I would repot the seedlings into a bigger pot.
I would be left amazed; the taproot root would be up to three times the length of the seedling. The Eucalypts would grow their roots first, anchor themselves into the soil and then commence to grow their canopy., The life span of River Red Gums is hundreds of years. Ridge Park, Unley, South Australia, houses a red gum eucalypt estimated to be 300 years. The tree is immense.
We can be easily deluded into thinking drugs and alcohol will stabilize us. We look at governments and relationships, and possession’s for security., Alas, these things are not the kind of soil in which to put down our taproots and stabilize our life.
Where can we find the kind of permanency, security, peace, calm in life’s storm? How can we be adults who don’t get swept away like gums with exposed roots along the riverbank? How can we avoid meltdowns, tantrums, guilt, accuse everyone else but ourselves when life happens?
There are many myths about Jesus which we are deluded enough to believe. Unfortunately, our only fount of knowledge concerning Jesus is the TV, films and social media. We have no idea of the truth about Jesus that is to be found in the Bible. The lie is, he condemns us, keeps us poor, allows us to be sick. There is the myth that we have to be good enough; we have to be a wowser. However, the scripture says, ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish.’ John 3: 16.
The truth is Jesus Christ came to give us abundant life. Listen to this, ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they (you and me) might have life and that they may have it more abundantly.’ John 10: 10.
Jesus came to stabilize our life, prosper us, give us his joy and peace.
When we take the time and trouble to search out the truth, we find that Jesus is the taproot that will settle us down and provide mental and physical strength. Jesus is the moral soil that does not wash away when life sends a flood. Jesus is the calm, the peace, the joy, the sanity in a mad and cruel world.
Anne Wells (Los Angeles Times) tells this story.
“My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
‘This is not a slip. This is lingerie,’ he said. He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite, silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price-tag was astronomical and still attached.
“Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.” He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, and then he turned to me, “Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day your alive is a special occasion.”
His words changed my life. I’m doing less dusting and more reading. I’m sitting on the deck, admiring the view. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. I’ve realized that life is a pattern of experiences to savor not endure. If it is worth seeing, doing, hearing, I want to see, hear and do. I’m trying hard not to put off, holdback, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. Every morning I tell myself that every day, minute, breath is a gift from God.
Don’t put off knowing God until later, either. It will prove to be the greatest loss of all.
Knowing God is to come alive.
The colors are brighter, the landscape is fascinating, and the bird-song is more beautiful. Knowing God completes life. ’Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.’ Philippians 3: 7. LB.
Of course, life gets in the way and things don’t work out like we planned. Jesus, within us, gives us the power to live above depression, poverty, sour grapes and avoid pity parties. We are enabled to come through life’s challenges, unscathed, and a whole lot wiser. God always keeps his promises and comes through for us.
When we put all else aside and wait in the presence of God, our strength is renewed, we will mount up with wings like eagles; we will run and not grow weary; we shall walk and not faint.’ Isaiah 40: 31. So many times my human strength has run out and God has come through for me in renewed vigour. I savour life and not endure it.
These are the most joyous words ever written, ‘So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us to this place of highest privilege where we now stand and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God had in mind for us to be.’ Romans 5: 1 – 2
Like the writer of the book of Philippians I am glad to smell the roses, listen to bird-song. I hardly dust anymore, but it’s my camera that gets the work out. ‘So whatever it takes, I will be one who lives in the fresh newness of life of those who are alive from the dead.’ Whoohooo!