Monday, September 22, 2014

Keep yourselves from idols.


Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 
(1 John 5:21)

I have lost count of the number of times I have read “I must have a thermomix”, “I am so jealous”, I can’t live without mine”, “I must persuade my husband to buy me one”. I sat in the car on Friday listening to a dear friend of mine raving about the thermomix and how she rushed home after a demonstration and tell her husband “she had to have one”. When does a simple item for the kitchen become something we “must have” or “couldn’t live without” and try and persuade everyone else to have one. When does one slip into idolising something? It appears it happens quickly and often without us even realising it. We are so vulnerable to persuasion.

For this reason we must always be on guard and God has give us a very direct instruction in regards to idolatry  FLEE

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)

The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. The most prevalent form of idolatry in Bible times was the worship of images that were thought to embody the various pagan deities.

Whilst we no longer worship deities such as those found in places like India, it doesn't mean we don't worship idols. Its just that modern day idols look a little different but there are many of them lurking — have you ever consider that a television can be an idol. So can sport, ones car, house, certain possessions (including our clothes and even that thermomix), a hobby, a person, a political party, a cause, a job - anything can become an idol that takes us away from God. Including our blogs. However it can also include matters of the heart —pride, self-centeredness, greed, gluttony, a love for possessions and ultimately rebellion against God.

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Idolatry was a problem for the Israelites and its still a problem for us today. Not much has changed, making God's Word still as relevant as ever, perhaps even more relevant as we are surrounded by so many idols that can take us quickly, quietly and without warning from God. 

In this modern age we worship at the alter of materialism and we are doing it all the time, even without knowing.  We are building bigger and bigger homes which we fill with all the things we believe we can't live without. We live off credit as we can't pay for all that we want on the fortnightly salary and we aren't willing to save. We must have things NOW and we believe our lives wouldn't be complete without them. We rush out to the buy the latest even if what we have still works, we envy others who have things we desire, we buy far too many clothes even when our wardrobes are full. We haven't found the stop button.

You shall have no other gods before Me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. (Exodus 20:3-6)

Did you know that your home can become your idol, just in the same way as a career can for a working woman — home all day, dedicating your time and energy into making it perfect and before long you have become obsessed with it. It becomes the centre of your universe and it is all you think about. Your children can also become idols, you spend so much time caring for them, raising them, wanting them to be perfect in every way and before long they become your central focus of your life and God quietly slips behind in importances. God must be number one in our minds and come before children, our husbands, our homes, our belongings, our jobs etc..  Could you walk away from all of this for God, most of us couldn't. 

Their land is also full of idols; They worship the work of their own hands,That which their own fingers have made. (Isaiah 2:8)

For those who work, including your husbands — watch the number of hours they work, many people are obsessed with working long hours, including evenings and weekends. They can't turn off their phone or their laptop, they might be needed — they see themselves as critical. We are seeing a growing number of women driven by promotion and losing the ability to balance their lives. None of this is done for the glory of God, it is all done for man — for self. Could be greed, self importances, vanity, pride. Whatever the reason, it is wrong. 

Other idols can include the environment — its perfectly ok to do "your bit" to keep the environment clean, but don't obsess and make it your new god. Science is amazing, but always remember, it isn't God and many scientists are playing God. Whilst being interested in politics is fine, perhaps joining a party and becoming immerse in it isn't wise. Loosing weight, going to the gym are all healthy options —  but so many go over board and spend huge amounts of time, energy and money and it becomes their new idol. Remember, it will all be destroyed one day and nothing of this earth will matter. This is why focusing on God is SO important as He is the only one that matters in the end. 

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

So what should we do, be careful. Thing twice before doing something. Its perfectly fine to buy that thermomix if you can afford it, but don't obese about it, don't try and persuade others as they may not be able to afford one. Perhaps even if you can afford one, do you really need it, are you so short of time? Think twice when starting a new hobby, will you get carried away and will it take time away from God, bible study, helping others, being your husbands helpmate. Blogging for example is a perfect way of sharing and spreading God's word, but it is also a trap that can take up hours of your time. Find the balance and always ask yourself "will its entrap me".  Satan uses idols to trap our focus on ourselves and not on Him and he is very good at doing this. 

Remember, there is only ONE God, no others and whatever we do for our ONE God:

do all to the glory of God. 
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

And He walks with me, and He talks with me



In The Garden

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that he gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other, has ever, known!

*****

We don't need to be in the garden to "Walk with Him, talk with Him" - He is with us 24/7, so no matter where you are in the coming week, remember He is beside you.  

And don't forget to rest, we live in such a busy world where everything is moving so fast and we are swept along whether we like it or not. It has become increasingly difficult to truly cease from all our efforts and sit quietly for an hour or two. Today, being the Lord's Day, is a perfect day for"switching off". I plan to spend my afternoon in the sunshine reading. Lets set aside time to rest and appreciate the life God has given you and I. Not only does it give us time to dedicate to the Lord, it really does help get us prepared for the coming week. We don't enter Monday feeling weary and exhausted, instead much calmer and ready to face the new week and whatever it may bring. 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand. Against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
Psalm 138:7



*****

Friday, September 19, 2014

Art Friday: Time for tea


Art Friday: Time for tea

According to the "About Food" website: It is believed that credit for the custom of the Afternoon Tea goes to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. The usual habit of serving dinner as late as 9pm left the Duchess hungry in the late afternoon. To stave off the hunger she would order tea, bread and butter and cakes to be served in her room. This was thought to be an excellent idea and the habit caught on and the afternoon tea was born.

However it is important to remember that at the time of the Duchess of Bedford, they knew nothing about baking powder, so the delicious light cakes we enjoy today at afternoon tea (such as the Victorian Sponge) were not eaten. Most cakes were heavy (rather than delicate) and more like a bread. It wasn’t until 1843 did the first modern version of baking powder was created and manufactured by Alfred Bird (1811-1878), British chemist and founder of Bird and Sons Ltd (custard makers). It took sometime to prefect baking powder and create the cakes we know today. 

One cake enjoyed at afternoon tea is the Victoria sponge cake. According to historians, after the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria retreated to her residence (Osborn House) at the Isle of Wight to mourn. Her chefs wanted to make something to cheer her up and this led to the Victorian sponge! She loved it. 


According to Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, a"Victoria Sandwiches" should be: 

4 eggs
Their weight in pounded sugar, butter and flour
1/4 saltspoonful of salt
A layer of any kind of jam or marmalade.

Beat the butter to a cream; dredge in the flour and pounded sugar; stir these ingredients well together, and add the eggs, which should be previously thoroughly whisked. When the mixture has been well beaten for about 10 minutes, butter a Yorkshire-pudding tin, pour in the batter, and bake it in a moderate oven for 20 minutes. Let it cool, spread one half of the cake with a layer of nice preserve, place over it the other half of the cake, press the pieces slightly together, and then cut it into long finger-pieces; pile them in cross bars on a glass dish, and serve. Time. — 20 minutes. Average cost, 1s 3d. Sufficient for 5 or 6 persons. Seasonable at any time.


Afternoon tea is wonderful to enjoy with friends in the garden. Relaxing around a pretty table, using the best china with bit size cakes and a pot of tea is rather perfect. This is the time to put your worries away and enjoy time with friends. For the ladies it's the lovely excuse to get dressed up!

Traditional teatime is four o'clock; however any time between two and five o'clock is appropriate for certain areas.


What is the differences between cream tea, afternoon tea, high tea and royal tea:

* A 'Cream Tea' is usually just scones with cream and preserves served with tea.

* 'Afternoon Tea' is traditionally sandwiches, scones and a selection of cakes, served with tea.

* 'High tea' compromising of more savoury foods and an altogether heartier meal, historically taken by the lower classes.

* 'Royal Tea' is a less widely used term signifying the addition of a glass of champagne to a traditional Afternoon Tea, for those extra special occasions!  (source: Afternoon tea.co.uk)

Tea in the Afternoon by Charles Edward Chambers

However, not every afternoon tea needs to be posh. Afternoon tea for one is just as enjoyable -  a pretty mug, a pot of tea, some dainty sandwiches on a tray next to the flower  garden is just pleasant. This is a perfect time for reading a book, listening to nature, time for some quiet contemplation or getting your daily dose of vitamin D. 

Afternoon Tea by An He

Even in the middle of winter one can enjoy afternoon tea by a sunny window such as in this Susan Rios painting. It is nice to have a break in the afternoon after a busy day and taking the time to catch one's breath. 
Susan Rios

Sandra Kuck

Afternoon tea is often associated with elegant china such as Wedgwood or Royal Dolton.   These manufacturers still hand paint (with gold) the most expensive versions of their china, perhaps out of reach for most of us!! One can still serve a beautiful afternoon tea without all the expensive china, thrift stores are great places to find old fashion cups and sauces and even cake stands and plates. 


May you enjoy your next afternoon tea !

*****

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The last 50 years: Then and now


I often read "I wish things were the way they use to be" and to some extent I agree. There are many aspects to past times I would love see returned, but equally, there are other aspects I am glad have changed. Like all things, we view the past with rose coloured glasses and we are quick to find fault in the present. I decided to write a list of the "then and now" to see some of the changes that have occurred over the last 50 years or so.

Even if the present isn't perfect (nor was the past), we must always remember that this is just a temporary home and we are passing through this life to something far more beautiful and perfect. 

"For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)


Then
  • Dad worked and mum stayed at home
  • Three to six children per family
  • Married women were not allow to work in many industries
  • Dad often stayed in one job his whole career working his way up the ladder
  • Most homes only had one car
  • Women cooked from scratch
  • Food was bought from a variety of shops - the butcher, the baker, the grocer
  • Large shopping malls were unheard of
  • There no such thing as "fast-food" outlets
  • It was a "do-it-yourself" mentality and fix what was broken
  • Dad mowed the lawns and mum look after the inside of the home
  • Mum sewed and knitted much of the household clothes
  • Church on Sundays followed by midday roast
  • Marriage was valued and desired by most
  • Neighbourhood connection
  • Personally knew the local doctor or policeman
  • Holidays were simple, often staying with friends and family or a trip to the seaside
  • Entertainment involved the family playing board games in the evening
  • Reading books was a popular way to pass away the time
  • Household gadgets included the washing machine and vacuum cleaner
  • Families were content to stay at home in the evenings
  • Children did not attend after school activities
  • Gifts were often handmade or inexpensive
  • Families saved up for big items
  • Children played outside on the street with other children in the neighbourhood
  • Children walk to the corner store on their own
  • The front door of many houses were not locked
  • Many families rented their homes
  • Parents stayed together, divorce was not talked about in public
  • Hotels shut at 6pm
  • Shops were not open on Sundays
  • Polio killed or maimed many
  • Children died from German Measles
  • People died from cancers in higher numbers and mothers died in childbirth
  • Life expectancy was 67 (in the 1960s)
  • Unmarried mothers were ostracised and many had their children forcibly taken away from them
  • Rape and domestic violence when unreported
  • Abortion was rare and illegal
  • Very poor families gave up children they could no longer look after
  • Indigenous children were taken away from their families and placed in "white" homes
  • Women suffered from depression and given valium
  • No universal nest egg (superannuation) for retirement 

Family and community was considered far more important 50 years ago compared with today. In general, people cared about each other, they looked out for those on their street, they were willing to lend a hand, the children all attended the same school, often the same church and played together in the street. Life was a lot safer, much quieter and simpler. Families did not run up huge debts as they do today and they were more willing to save to buy those big ticket items (whereas we just rely on credit). As a result of WW2, families were frugal and much more like to fix items around the home, it wasn't the throw-away society we have today. Over the last 50 years we have seen more and more women move into the workforce for a variety of reasons - 50 years ago things like childcare didn't exist, mothers had more time for helping out at school, and dedicating themselves to their homes - many children worn handmade clothes, mum knitted numerous jumpers and families ate meals cooked from scratch and dad took sandwiches for lunch at work. Eating out was a treat. It was a much healthier society. 

However, it wasn't all glossy. More babies died at birth, unmarried women had their infants "stolen" from them in the name of adoption, polio and measles killed, women who were raped were not given full justice, divorce wasn't fair, more people died in car accidents (no safety belts) and if you were indigenous it was possible to find yourself removed from your own family and placed in a "white" home. In other parts of the world we had apartheid and violence against blacks. Whilst many more women were at home, many were not happy and we see the increase of valium "mummy's little helper". Whilst you have a chose about being at home, these women did not and that creates a feeling of being trapped. 

As for technology, whilst the computer had been invented and used during WW2, it was 
beyond comprehension that one day you could send messages around the world in seconds. However TV had been invented and families had cheap entertainment at home, it was the start of the TV dinner.

How times have changed as they always do:

Now

  • Mum and dad both work
  • People will experience many different jobs in their lifetime
  • One to three children
  • Many homes have two cars
  • Most people own their own home, or have a mortgage
  • Outsourcing of many household services and chores
  • Meals no longer cooked from scratch
  • Much of the food purchased in processed
  • Food bought from large and impersonal supermarket
  • Fast-food outlets on every corner
  • Lack of connect with neighbours
  • Sporting events more popular to church
  • Large shopping malls full of shops
  • Throw away mentality, if it breaks, buy a new one
  • Planned obsolesces built into many of our products
  • Relentless spending using the credit card
  • Children spend their afternoons doing organised "activities"
  • Children play inside with electronic devices
  • Playing on the streets considered too dangerous
  • Frequent and expensive holidays overseas
  • Hotels and pubs stay open late
  • Shops are open 7 days a week
  • Children expect toys bought outside of birthdays and Christmas.
  • Unmarried mothers receive financial support and allow to keep their babies
  • Rape and domestic violence taken more seriously
  • Very poor families receive help from the government in the form of pensions
  • Polio has been eradicated in western nations
  • Infant mortality is declining
  • Life expectancy is 84 years for women
  • Men still committing suicide at high levels
  • Most children go onto further education
  • Women can work in almost any employment area
  • Women receive equal pay to their male colleagues
  • Medical devices change people lives - pacemakers, cochlear implants
  • Cars are safer
  • We can call a person no matter where we are
  • Knowledge is at our finger tips
  • Computers are solving the unsolvable

Life has changed so much in 50 years. Family is no longer consider as important as it once was, many no longer know their neighbours, or care about those around them and it is not safe for children to play outside in public spaces anymore. It is far more dangerous for women to walk alone after dark in many areas. People no longer respect others and manners are disappearing fast.  People are far ruder to each other, care less about each other and have become much more aggressive in their interactions with others. We live in a society that is more about "me" and less about "us". People live in their own little worlds and show no interest in reaching out to those less fortunate or in need of help. 


However the advancement of medical science now saves many more lives, few babies die, we have removed the threat of polio from society, many survive infections and cancers but we are yet to find a cure for dementia. We now have a welfare system that protects unmarried mothers, a woman can escape violent marriages without ramifications and women have the choose between working or not working. 

The world has shrunk via the computer and one can chat with or buy from anyone around the globe. We can travel quickly between nations, communicate 24/7 and trade has created much wealth. 

Our standard of living has improved but we are not happier. We have become a society focused on material goods, we have long lists of "things" we believe we need and we aren't willing to save to buy them. We live off credit. 

Marriages are on the decline, young people no longer see the value of marriage, rather co-habit with their partner. Many households are two income so families can afford to pay for expensive mortgages and numerous bills. Many children are placed in childcare for hours on end. Mum no longer has time to home cook, she is too busy running around taking her children to the many different after school activities. Divorce is higher than it should be, too many children live in single parents homes. All in all, we are seeing the decline of the traditional family structure.  Families are suffering from the endless pressure forced upon them by the workplace and goverment and some have decided to simplify their lives and move away from the materialistic lifestyle back to how it use to be. 

But like all change, it comes at a cost. We live in a society with high levels of pressure on individuals, many are not coping. Mental health is on the rise, suicide rates are not dropping. Whilst the internet is invaluable, it has brought pornography and gambling into the home and led to broken marriages and abuse. Abortion is now freely available to all women, millions of unborn children have died as a result. Our desire to think of "me" first has had severe consequences. 

We haven't stopped war, terrorism is worse than ever. The innocent still die, countries are still suffering from famine and horror. Women are still being raped, domestic violences leads to one death per week in Australia of innocent women and children. We think we are so clever, and in some levels we are. However it has all come at a great cost. 

But sadly - all the clever things we have achieve, they have been done by man for man and certainly not done for the glory of God. In fact, as we see the rise in the "me generation", we have see the rapid decline on the desire to worship the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. 

Is this world a better place - yes and no. 

But remember, there is only one home that will be perfect for us - with no pain or suffering, no hurt or worry, no anger or violence, a place so perfect it is almost impossible to imagine. 


Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 
(John 14:1-4)
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Count your blessings, name them one by one


I have just finished reading "Mighty be our power" by Leymah Ghowee, 2011 Nobel Peace price winner. Leymah is Liberian and at the tender aged of  17 war came to Liberia and changed her life forever. She witness death, her family ripped apart with many dying or becoming refugees in neighbouring countries, destruction of her city and the loss of everything she held dear. To add to her misery, she found herself in an abusive relationship that caused her much grief. Her life was turned upside down leading her along a path of hopelessness, fear and despair. But in her darkest moments she remembered this hymn which reminded her to "count her blessings". Can you imagine being in a war zone or being beaten up by your husband and still wanting to count your blessings?  Our lives are so comfortable, we forget to count our blessings when they are starring us in the face. I sometimes think it takes loosing some or all of our comforts to realise what God really does for us. 


When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

I just love that last verse, no matter the conflict - great or small, "never be disheartened, God is over all". Don't live in fear of what is happening in this world (and in some areas it is just horrifying), do not panic about the week ahead, leave your children in God's hands - as God has it all under control.  What amazing comfort to know His love and His grace. 

And what an amazing woman Leymah is, to realise that through pray and peaceful protest the women of Liberia could end the fourteen year old civil war. She lead a group of brave women and overturned Charles Taylor and led her nation to peace. But most importantly she found comfort in the Word of God during her darkest moments and prayed to the Lord for guidance and strength in bringing peace.  

If you were wondering why a group of women rose up to end the war (rather than remaining in their homes caring for their children), because it is the women who suffer most during war. In Liberia, 250,000 people died, a quarter were children. One in three were displaced, 350,000 lived in camps. One million people, mostly women and children were at risk of malnutrition, diarrhoea, measles and cholera. These women, many mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters decided it was time to put an end to rape, murder, widowhood. 

Most women are not called to do something as monumental as Leymah, our lives are so much simpler but we still forget to count our blessings, how sad. So, this week, lets focus on counting our blessings, perhaps list them so you can look back at how blessed you truly are. 


I have come to one conclusion: All that I am, all that I aspire to be, all that I was before, is by the grace of God. There are so many women in Africa, and outside Africa, who are more intelligent than I am. 

(Leymah Ghowee)
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Sunday, September 14, 2014

What a friend we have in Jesus

The story of the author of this hymn is both sad but inspiring. Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1896) was 25 years old, in love and to be married. The day before his wedding his fiance died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph sailed from his homeland to start a new life in Canada. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Once again, Joseph's hopes and dreams were shattered when Eliza became ill and died before the wedding could take place.

He never married, but spent the remainder of his life giving all his time, money and even the clothes off his own back to help the less fortunate and to spread the love and compassion of Jesus wherever he went.
At the time of Eliza's death, he received a message that his mother was ill, he sent her a letter enclosed with the poem "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". 

Many years later a friend was sitting with Joseph, as he was very ill. During this visit, the friend was very impressed when he ran across his poems, including What a Friend We Have in Jesus. As a result of this visit, almost 30 years after his letter of comfort to his mother, Joseph's poems were published in a book called Hymns and Other Verses. Soon thereafter, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918) put music to one of those poems - What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

For a man who suffered so much, I wonder if he ever invisgaed the words he penned to his mother would make such a differences to so many over a century and half later. 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

( John 15:13) 


(Share Faith: source)
****

Friday, September 12, 2014

Art Friday: Neil Hollingworth



Art Friday: Neil Hollingworth

Hope you enjoy these very beautifully crafted artworks. 













*****

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