Saturday, 10 December 2011

Lambs!

That delightful time of year has arrived, when the ewes start lambing! Our hearts are filled with gratitude and praise to the Lord every time we look over the fence and see the precious new lambs, running around ever so clumsily to keep up with their mothers.

The lambing season started one mild afternoon, when I came upon Sophie and a new little addition :).





She is a beautiful little ewe, just born when I arrived.




We were able to get so close and hold and pet her to our hearts content, because Sophie was one of our potty lambs. They never forget the hand that feeds them, so Sophie's lamb is being raised to be very quiet, too!




We glimpsed an interesting part of the birthing process here:




Sophie and her lamb spent the night in our yard, and here is the lamb the next morning,
having an early feed!




During the second night, she fell down a hole and was painted in red mud :).




The second lamb to be born, another little ewe, seems to have been premature. You can see here, how tiny she is.




After four days, we decided to take her in and hand-raise her. She's too young and small to survive, not even being old enough to reach up and feed from her mother. She was quite miserable the day we brought her home :(




She took to the bottle very quickly, and Harry has become her 'Maama' :)




"That's enough milk, thanks!"




I'll have some 'finger', though. That tastes really good




By day two, she was looking like a different lamb, well hydrated and on the track to being so much healthier. She will start growing now, the Lord willing!




"Hello"




There are seven lambs now, including two sets of twins! I'd love to post more photos soon, as we take them.

When we think of lambs, how can we help but consider our Lord Jesus, Who was named the Lamb of God? During this lambing season, I was reminded of a passage from Roy Hession's book The Calvary Road, called 'The Disposition of the Lamb', where he writes:

"Look at Him for a moment as the Lamb. He was the simple Lamb. A lamb is the simplest of God's creatures. It has no schemes or plans for helping itself - it exists in helplessness and simplicity. Jesus made Himself as nothing for us, and became the simple Lamb. He had no strength of His own or wisdom of His own, no schemes to get Himself out of difficulties, just simple dependence on the Father all the time. "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do." But we - how complicated we are! What schemes we have had of helping ourselves and of getting ourselves out of difficulties. What efforts of our own we have resorted to, to live the Christian life and to do God's works, as if we were something and could do something. The Dove had to take His flight (at least as far as the conscious blessing of His Presence was concerned) because we were not willing to be simple lambs."

May we look unto Jesus the Lamb of God. Not just as our example, but as our Lord, our Life. We have been buried with Him through baptism unto death, and raised up in Him... in His Life. Isn't this a wonderful, incredible truth! All praise to the Lord Jesus!

This is the truth which brings such joy to any season, isn't it. The joy of beholding the Lord Jesus, the precious Lamb of God, our Saviour. Blessed be His Name.



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Beautiful Summer

Several people have commented on how beautiful the flowers are this summer. Our garden is sadly devoid of these lovely additions at the moment, but the thought caused me to look around and to see that, yes, it is a beautiful summer - it is the handiwork of the Lord! And it is by His Grace that our eyes have been opened to a far greater beauty than any summer could boast: the beauty of the Lord Jesus, our Saviour and King, the Name above all Names.
"One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple" (Ps. 27:4).
The wonder is, that we can behold the beauty of the Lord anywhere. Not just where our surroundings are beautiful with flowers and peaceful, sun-swept views, but in places that have been stripped bare and made ugly by the ravages of war, and pestilence, and famine, and natural disaster.
What is more wonderful, is that the more ugly, and 'war-torn', and stripped and bare we are in heart and spirit, the more glorious and radiant shines the Lord in His beauty! And if we turn from our own ugliness and from all hope in the flesh, from trying to improve that ugliness, and look unto Jesus - then, we are not just beholders from afar, but we are "dwellers in His house"! May this be the desire of our hearts, to dwell in His house.
But how I have wrestled and seen, and how you must also have seen, that this desire to seek cannot come from our own stiff-necked, proud and cold hearts! There is nothing good in our flesh, no, not one good thing. Even a thirst for the Lord Jesus, to drink from His living water, cannot come from ourselves but from Him. He is the giver of all good, and we come to Him, not by our own effort, but by His unmerited, amazing grace. By His calling... Him reaching down, when we cannot possibly reach up.
We know this truth by His Grace, yet just to write this today, to go back to those Scriptures and meditate upon the Grace of God, is a great blessing, and renewal, and encouragement. The coming of a new season made me look up with new eyes, and see that the greatest beauty and gift we have been given, One Whose beauty can never wane as this summer beauty will, is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are a few memories, so far, of the warmer months.

New projects, such as this one :)

New skills (and there are a lot of new things to learn, at the age of 4!

New Australian native flowers, blossoming at the approach of the new moon
Longer days, with the sun rising early and setting late

Well, this certainly isn't picturesque - but it is a necessity, and a necessary part of
summer! Especially with three young boys growing, both in stature and appetite :)

As the dam water recedes, interesting treasures are being left behind such as this
old motor.

The calves are loving the warmer weather, such as this one - having a nice afternoon
bake!


Bessie, finally, appears to be in calf, and Lord willing will calve in three months or so. High time
for Lotus to have a break!

Here is Pie, very close to lambing, having a good rub on the fence.

The milking bail is in full-time use at the moment, and needs a good oiling soon

Here is Lotus' calf. I did originally christen him 'Herbert', but somehow he has ended up
with the more familiar title, 'Little Boy'!

There are lots of baby joeys around, but this one didn't deign to show his face -
although you can see the bump where he resides!

The 'boys' are growing fast, although Toby, in the background, still hasn't fully
learned to keep his ears up.

May God bless you all, and I hope to post more regularly!

Friday, 11 November 2011

The Life that Wins

Dear sisters,

After a whole month without blogging, the Lord gave me something today to share with you.
This morning we read a beautiful testimony, called The Life that Wins. It was written 100 years ago, in 1911... and it is still in print, to bless and encourage believers today!
And truly, it is encouraging. I was amazed while reading it, to see some of the very questions and thoughts which have burdened me! We are on a journey with the Lord, each one of us, and it is beautiful how He works in His children to encourage and exhort one another.

Oh, above and before and beyond all other things... praise the Lord Jesus, and may He open our eyes and illuminate our hearts with the revelation that He is far, far more than our Helper and our Example - He is our Life!

Victory in Christ

Messages on the Victorious Life by Charles G. Trumbull

Chapter 2 — The Life That Wins

“An address (revised) given in 1911 by Charles Gallaudet Trumbull before the National Convention of the Presbyterian Brotherhood of America, held in the Washington and Compton Avenue Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, Mo., of which Dr. James H. Brookes was for many years pastor, and printed by kind permission of the Sunday School Times Company, Philadelphia, U.S.A.”

There is only one life that wins; and that is the life of Jesus Christ. Every man may have that life; every man may live that life.

I do not mean that every man may be Christ-like; I mean something very much better than that. I do not mean that a man may always have Christ’s help. I mean something better than that. I do not mean that a man have power from Christ. I mean something very much better than power. And I do not mean that a man shall be merely saved from his sins and kept from sinning. I mean something better than even that victory.

To explain what I do mean, I must simply tell you a very personal and recent experience of my own. I think I am correct when I say that I have known more than most men know about failure, about betrayals and dishonoring of Christ, about disobedience to heavenly visions, about conscious fallings short of that which I saw other men attaining, and which I knew Christ was expecting of me.

Not a great while ago I should have had to stop just there, and only say I hoped that some day I would be led out of all that into something better. If you had asked me how, I would have had to say I did not know. But, thanks to His long-suffering patience and infinite love and mercy, I do not have to stop there, but I can go on to speak of something more than a miserable story of personal failure and disappointment.

The conscious needs of my life, before there came the new experience of Christ of which I would tell you, were definite enough. Three stand out:

1. There were great fluctuations in my spiritual life, in my conscious closeness of fellowship with God. Sometimes I would be on the heights spiritually; sometimes I would be in the depths. A strong, arousing convention, a stirring, searching address from some consecrated, victorious Christian leader of men; a searching, Spirit-filled book, or the obligation to do a difficult piece of Christian service myself, with the preparation in prayer that it involved, would lift me up; and I would stay up — for a while — and God would seem very close and my spiritual life deep. But it wouldn’t last. Sometimes by some single failure before temptation, sometimes by a gradual downhill process, my best experiences would be lost, and I would find myself back on the lower levels. And a lower level is a perilous place for a Christian to be, as the devil showed me over and over again.

It seemed to me that it ought to be possible for me to live habitually on a high place of close fellowship with God, as I saw certain other men doing, and as I was not doing. Those men were exceptional, to be sure; they were in the minority among the Christians whom I knew. But I wanted to be in that minority. Why shouldn’t we all be, and turn it into a majority?

2. Another conscious lack of my life was in the matter of failure before besetting sins. I was not fighting a winning fight in certain lines. Yet if Christ was not equal to a winning fight, what were my Christian beliefs and professions good for? I did not look for perfection. But I did believe that I could be enabled to win in certain directions habitually, yes, always, instead of uncertainly and interruptedly, the victories interspersed with crushing and humiliating defeats. Yet I had prayed, oh, so earnestly, for deliverance; and the habitual deliverance had not come.

3. A third conscious lack was in the matter of dynamic, convincing spiritual power that would work miracle changes in other men’s lives. I was doing a lot of Christian work — had been at it ever since I was a boy of fifteen. I was going through the motions — oh, yes. So can anybody. I was even doing personal work — the hardest kind of all; talking with people, one by one, about giving themselves to my Savior! But I wasn’t seeing results. Once in a great while I would see a little in the way of result, of course; but not much. I didn’t see lives made over by Christ, revolutionized, turned into firebrands for Christ themselves because of my work; and it seemed to me I ought to. Other men did, why not I? I comforted myself with the old assurance (so much used by the devil) that it wasn’t for me to see results; that I could safely leave that to the Lord if I did my part. But this didn’t satisfy me, and I was sometimes heartsick over the spiritual barrenness of my Christian service.

About a year before, I had begun, in various ways, to get intimations that certain men to whom I looked upon were conspicuously blessed in their Christian service and seemed to have a conception or consciousness of Christ that I did not have — that was beyond, bigger, deeper than any thought of Christ I had ever had. I rebelled at the suggestion when it first came to me. How could anyone have a better idea of Christ than I? (1 am just laying bare to you the blind, self-satisfied workings of my sin-stunted mind and heart.) Did I not believe in Christ and worship Him as the Son of God and one with God? Had I not accepted Him as my personal Saviour more than twenty years before? Did I not believe that in Him alone was eternal life, and was I not trying to live in His service, giving my whole life to Him? Did I not ask His help and guidance constantly, and believe that in Him was my only hope? Was I not championing the very cause of the highest possible conception of Christ, by conducting in the columns of The Sunday School Times a symposium on the deity of Christ, in which the leading Bible scholars of the world were testifying to their personal belief in Christ as God? All this I was doing. How could a higher or better conception of Christ than mine be possible? I knew that I needed to serve Him far better than I had ever done; but that I needed a new conception of Him I would not admit.

And yet it kept coming at me, from directions that I could not ignore. I heard from a preacher of power a sermon on Ephesians 4:12-13; “Unto the building up of the body of Christ: till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”; and as I followed it I was amazed, bewildered. I couldn’t follow him. He was beyond my depth. He was talking about Christ, unfolding Christ, in a way that I admitted was utterly unknown to me. Whether he was right or wrong I wasn’t quite ready to say that night, but if he was right, then I was wrong,

Later I read another sermon by this same man on “Paul’s Conception of the Lord Jesus Christ.” As I read it, I was conscious of the same uneasy realization that he and Paul were talking about a Christ whom I simply did not know. Could they be right? If they were right, how could I get their knowledge?

One day I came to know another minister whose work among men had been greatly blessed. I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his habitual consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing so bore him up, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence, and that this was so, independent of his own feelings, independent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence. Moreover, he said that Christ was the home of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters, it would turn to Chris; and he would talk aloud to Christ when he was alone — on the street, anywhere — as easily and naturally as to a human friend. So real to him was Jesus’ presence.

Some months later I was in Edinburgh, attending the World Missionary Conference, and I saw that one whose writings had helped me greatly was to speak to men Sunday afternoon on “The Resources of the Christian Life.” I went eagerly to hear him. I expected him to give us a series of definite things that we could do to strengthen our Christian life; and I knew I needed them. But his opening words showed me my mistake, while they made my heart leap with a new joy. What he said was something like this:

“The resources of the Christian life, my friends, are just — Jesus Christ.”

That was all. But that was enough, I hadn’t grasped it yet; but it was what all these men had been trying to tell me. Later, as I talked with the speaker about my personal needs and difficulties he said, earnestly and simply, “Oh, Mr. Trumbull, if we would only step out upon Christ in a more daring faith, He could do so much more for us.”

The Two Conditions for Entering that Life

Before leaving Great Britain I was confronted once more with the thought that was beyond me, a Christ whom I did not yet know, in a sermon that a friend of mine preached in his London church on a Sunday evening in June. His text was Philippians 1:21, “To me to live is Christ.” It was the same theme — the unfolding of “the life that is Christ,” Christ as the whole life and the only life. I did not understand all that he said, and I knew vaguely that I did not have as my own what he was telling us about. But I wanted to read the sermon again, and I brought the manuscript away with me when I left him.

It was about the middle of August that a crisis came with me. I was attending a young people’s missionary conference, and was faced by a week of daily work there for which I knew I was miserably, hopelessly unfit and incompetent. For the few weeks previous had been one of my periods of spiritual letdown, not uplift, with all the loss and failure and defeat that such a time is sure to record.

The first evening that I was there a missionary bishop spoke to us on the Water of Life. He told us that it was Christ’s wish and purpose that every follower of His should be a wellspring of living, gushing water of life all the time to others, not intermittently, not interruptedly, but with continuous and irresistible flow. We have Christ’s own word for it, he said, as he quoted, “He that believeth on me, from within him shall flow rivers of living water.” He told how some have a little of the water of life, bringing it up in small bucketfuls and at intervals, like the irrigating water wheel of India, with a good deal of creaking and grinding; while from the lives of others it flows all the time in a life-bringing, abundant stream that nothing can stop. And he described a little old native woman in the East whose marvelous ministry in witnessing for Christ put to shame those of us who listened. Yet she had known Christ for only a year.

The next morning, Sunday, alone in my room, I prayed it out with God, as I asked Him to show me the way out. If there was a conception of Christ that I did not have, and that I needed because it was the secret of some of these other lives I had seen or heard of, a conception better than any I had yet had, and beyond me, I asked God to give it to me. I had with me the sermon I had heard, “To me to live is Christ,” and I rose from my knees and studied it. Then I prayed again. And God, in His long-suffering patience, forgiveness, and love, gave me what I asked for. He gave me a new Christ — wholly new in the conception and consciousness of Christ that now became mine.

Wherein was the change? It is hard to put it into words, and yet it is, oh, so new, and real, and wonderful, and miracle-working in both my own life and the lives of others.

To begin with, I realized for the first time that the many references throughout the New Testament to Christ in you, and you in Christ, Christ our life, and abiding in Christ, are literal, actual, blessed fact, and not figures of speech. How the 15th chapter of John thrilled with new life as I read it now! And the 3rd of Ephesians, 14 to 21. And Galatians 2:20. And Philippians 1:21.

What I mean is this: I had always known that Christ was my Saviour; but I had looked upon Him as an external Saviour, one who did a saving work for me from outside, as it were; one who was ready to come close alongside and stay by me, helping me in all that I needed, giving me power and strength and salvation. But now I know something better than that. At last I realized that Jesus Christ was actually and literally within me; and even more than that, that He had constituted Himself my very life, taking me into union with Himself — my body, mind, and spirit — while I still had my own identity and free will and full moral responsibility. Was not this better than having Him as a helper, or even then having Him as an external Saviour: to have Him, Jesus Christ, the Son of God as my own very life? It meant that I need never again ask Him to help me as though He were one and I another; but rather simply to do His work, His will, in me, and with me, and through me. My body was His, my mind His, my will His, my spirit His; and not merely His, but literally part of Him; what He asked me to recognize was, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth In me.” Jesus Christ had constituted Himself my life — not as a figure of speech, remember, but as a literal, actual fact, as literal as the fact that a certain tree has been made into this desk on which my hand rests. For “your bodies are members of Christ,” and “ye are the body of Christ.”

Do you wonder that Paul could say with tingling joy and exultation, “To me to live is Christ”? He did not say, as I had mistakenly been supposing I must say, “To me to live is to be Christ-like,” nor, “to me to live is to have Christ’s help,” nor, “To me to live is to serve Christ.” No; he plunged through and beyond all that in the bold, glorious, mysterious claim, “To me to live is Christ!” I had never understood that verse before. Now, thanks to His gift of Himself, I am beginning to enter into a glimpse of its wonderful meaning.

And that is how I know for myself that there is a life that wins: that it is the life of Jesus Christ: and that it may be our life for the asking, if we let Him — in absolute, unconditional surrender of ourselves to Him, our wills to His will, making Him the Master of our lives as well as our Saviour — enter in, occupy us, overwhelm us with Himself, yea, fill us with Himself “unto all the fullness of God.”

What has the result been? Did this experience give me only a new intellectual conception of Christ, more interesting and satisfying than before? If it were only that, I should have little to tell you today. No, it meant a revolutionized, fundamentally changed life, within and without. If any man be in Christ, you know, there is a new creation.

Do not think that I am suggesting any mistaken, unbalanced theory that, when a man receives Christ as the fullness of his life, he cannot sin again. The “life that is Christ” still leaves us our free will; with that free will we can resist Christ; and my life, since the new experience of which I speak, has recorded sins of such resistance. But I have learned that the restoration after failure can be supernaturally blessed, instantaneous, and complete. I have learned that, as I trust Christ in surrender, there need be no fighting against sin, but complete freedom from the power and even the desire of sin. I have learned that this freedom, this more than conquering, is sustained in unbroken continuance as I simply recognize that Christ is my cleansing, reigning life.

The three great lacks or needs of which I spoke at the opening have been miraculously met.

1. There has been a fellowship with God utterly differing from and infinitely better than anything I had ever known in all my life before.

2. There has been an utterly new kind of victory, victory-by-freedom, over certain besetting sins — the old ones that used to throttle and wreck me — when I have trusted Christ for the freedom.

3. And, lastly the spiritual results in service have given me such a sharing of the joy of Heaven as I never knew was possible on earth. Six of my most intimate friends, most of them mature Christians, soon had their lives completely revolutionized by Christ, laying hold on Him in this new way and receiving Him unto all the fullness of God. Two of these were a mother and a son, the son a young businessman twenty-five-years old. Another was the general manager of one of the large business houses in Philadelphia. Though consecrated and active as a Christian for years, he began letting Christ work out through him in a new way into the lives of his many associates, and of his salesmen all over the country. A white-haired man of over seventy found a peace in life and a joy in prayer that he had long ago given up as impossible for him. Life fairly teems with the miracle-evidences of what Christ is willing and able to do for other lives through anyone who just turns over the keys to his complete indwelling.

Jesus Christ does not went to be our helper; He wants to be our life. He does not want us to work for Him. He wants us to let Him do His work through us, using us as we use a pencil to write with; better still, using us as one of the fingers on His hand.

When our life is not only Christ’s but Christ, our life will be a winning life; for He cannot fail. And a winning life is a fruit-bearing life, a serving life. It is after all only a small part of life, and a wholly negative part, to overcome; we must also bear fruit in character and in service if Christ is our life. And we shall — because Christ is our life. “He cannot deny himself”; He “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” An utterly new kind of service will be ours now, as we let Christ serve others through us, using us. And this fruit-bearing and service, habitual and constant, must all be by faith in Him; our works are the result of His Life in us; not the condition, or the secret, or the cause of that Life.

The conditions of thus receiving Christ as the fullness of the life are simply two — after, of course, our personal acceptance of Christ as our Saviour — through His shed blood and death as our Substitute and Sin-Bearer, from the guilt and consequences of our sin.

1. Surrender absolutely and unconditionally to Christ as Master of all that we are and all that we have, telling God that we are now ready to have His whole will done in our entire life, at every point, no matter what it costs.

2. Believe that God has set us wholly free from the law of sin (Romans 8:2) — not will do this, but has done it. Upon this second step, the quiet act of faith, all now depends. Faith must believe God in entire absence of any feeling or evidence. For God’s word is safer, better, and surer than any evidence of His word. We are to say, in blind, cold faith if need be, “I know that my Lord Jesus is meeting all my needs now (even my need of faith), because His grace is sufficient for me.”

And remember that Christ Himself is better then any of His blessings; better than the power, or the victory, or the service, that He grants. Christ creates spiritual power; but Christ is better than that power. He is God's best: we may have Christ, yielding to Him in such completeness and abandonment of self that it is no longer we that live, but Christ that liveth in us. Will you thus take Him?

“I know that my Lord Jesus is meeting all my needs now,
because His grace is sufficient for me.”

Charles G. Trumbull


Monday, 10 October 2011

The Race


Dear sisters and friends, we are in a race... a great race to be run with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. A race beset with snares, and with miry clay which daily threatens to grab hold of us. A race which runs parallel to a broader racetrack, one that constantly beckons to us with its easy slopes and cheap delights. There is no cost to run on that racetrack. But the other track - our track - our race - was started at great cost. A heavy price was paid. For Someone initiated and perfected it. Someone authored and finished it. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. His precious blood was shed for that race to begin. It is a track marked with that precious blood which purges the sin of those entering the race... and through the Grace, Mercy and Love of that Life given for us, through the power of that Resurrection, He places us on the track... and signals the start of the race! Through the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit, He urges us onward... in His Resurrection Life! In the Light of His Glory and Grace, shining before us to light the track, we no longer glimpse and hunger after that other racetrack... suddenly, it is so near and yet so very, very far away.
Praise the Name of Jesus... He is our Champion, Who initiates and perfects our faith along that racetrack. What a friend we have in Jesus. He is the Name above all names!

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Phil 3: 8-11)

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Christianity of Anne Boleyn

Whenever I think of Anne Boleyn, the thoughts are negative. In general, history portrays her as the young temptress with bewitching powers who seduced King Henry VIII. We read of an immoral woman who pressured the King to divorce and dethrone his Queen, disinherit his daughter, and break with the church... all in order to achieve her greatest ambition: to become Queen.

With this impression of Anne Boleyn, I was surprised to come across a book which proposes that Anne was, in fact, an evangelical christian! In Anne Boleyn: One short life that changed the English-speaking world, Colin Hamer presents a fresh perspective on Anne's life, using credible, primary sources.

I read with great skepticism. It was amazing to discover a side to Anne's life that one never reads about in a general history book. According to Hamer, Anne worked zealously to protect and promote well-known evangelicals, both at home and abroad, and endeavoured to fill prominent church roles with men of evangelical faith. She worked hard to promote the Bible and other evangelical books in English, displaying them publicly in court (though they were banned books).

In his chapter called A faith in Action, Hamer presents a brief overview of the christianity of Anne Boleyn. I've posted parts of this chapter. See what you think!

A personal testimony
Personal Bible study was Anne's practice; her chaplain Latymer said that 'Her highness was very expert in the French tongue, exercising herself continually in reading the French Bible and other French books of like effect and conceived great pleasure in the same, wherefore her highness charged her chaplains to be furnished of all kind of French books that reverently treated of the holy scripture." (Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 268).
Louis de Brun, in a work dedicated to Anne, in 1531 wrote of her:

When I consider the great affection and real passion which you have for the French tongue, I am not surprised that you are never found, if circumstances permit, without your having some book in French in your hand which is of use and value in pointing out and finding the true and narrow way to all virtues, as, for example, translations of the Holy Scriptures, reliable and full of sound doctrines... And most of all... I have seen you continually reading those helpful letters of St Paul which contain all the fashion and rule to live righteously, in every good manner of behaviour, which you know well and practise, thanks to your continual reading of them. (Ibid, p. 269)

It is in these Pauline letters that Anne would have read the great statements about faith... Starkey says: '[Anne] continued this practice of conspicuous piety throughout the days of her prosperity, reading improving works herself and encouraging her ladies to read them as well' (Starkey, Six Wives: the queens of Henry VIII, p. 369).

Anne's Doctrinal Position
Anne, her brother George, and her father were all described as Lutherans - but this does not mean they held a clear doctrinal position that would identify them with everything that Luther said. Nor was there any direct connection with Wycliffe and the Lollards of an earlier time. The thing that united them was an absolute conviction of the importance of the Bible - in other words, they were evangelicals. The Roman Catholic Church was itself in a state of flux. Many within the Church, on reading the New Testament for themselves, had begun to see that the doctrinal position of the Roman Church bore little relationship to Scripture. Some embraced the 'new learning' wholeheartedly, some did in part. For others their journey to faith was a slow one, with doubts resurfacing on the way. Thomas Bilney (see below) and Archbishop Cranmer embraced the 'new learning', then shrank back in horror at the thought of their ruined careers, the damage to others it would cause, and the very real prospect of their own torture and burning. Then later they received renewed strength and witnessed to the Saviour, going to their violent deaths with enormous courage and heroism. These heroes of faith faltered - but who would be so bold as to pass judgment on them? Today we are surrounded by considered doctrinal statements that were hammered out over the hundred or so years after these tumultuous events, secure in the knowledge that the evangelical cause largely triumphed - a perspective denied them.

Anne was the catalyst in the break with Rome
Without Anne it is almost certain that Henry would not have made the break from Rome. Not only did she provide the motivation, she also gave him the scriptural arguments to strengthen his resolve. Anne brought evangelical books directly to Henry, marking particular passages for his attention and discussion... The Bible, not just church and 'religion', was the frequent dinner conversation in the Boleyn home, and Anne took the habit to the King's own dining table. William Latymer says that Anne and Henry never dined 'without some argument of Scripture thoroughly debated' (Denny, p. 210).

Key Figures could count on Anne's support
Anne's influence did not stop with Henry: the Archbishop of Canterbury was a known supporter of Anne, the Lord Privy Seal was her father, and the King's secretary was Thomas Cromwell, also firmly in the Boleyn camp, or at least, so it was thought; the Lord Chancellor, Thomas Audley, was also on very favourable terms with her. There was a circle of friends at court who were sympathetic to reform and would obviously be emboldened when Anne was crowned queen.

Anne pressured Henry to protect evangelicals at home
Anne's influence in theological matters had already displayed itself well before her marriage. In 1528 she had written to Cardinal Wolsey to 'remember the parson of Honey Lane for my sake'. All Hallows, Honey Lane, near Cheapside in the City of London, was a centre for evangelicals attracting great numbers to hear the preachers.The rector, Dr Robert Forman, and his curate, Thomas Garrett, were under investigation for heresy. Garrett particularly was involved in importing books that were more radical than any which Anne's agents handled. It was a brave move by Anne to write to the Cardinal, because Wolsey prided himself in tracking down the trade in books and prosecuting those involved, boasting to Pope Clement VII about his efforts. Anne also persuaded Henry to get Wolsey to intervene on behalf of the Prior of Reading, John Shirburn, who in 1529 had been arrested for possessing Lutheran books sent to him by Garrett. That Henry should intervene on behalf of an acknowledged Lutheran when he himself was still a staunch advocate of Catholic doctrine shows the remarkable extent of Anne's influence... Thomas Alway, prosecute by Wolsey for having banned books, wrote to Anne: "I remember how many deeds of pity your goodness has done within these few years... without respect of any persons, as well as to strangers and aliens as to many of this land, as well to poor as to the rich" (Ibid, p. 128).

Anne pressured Henry to protect evangelicals abroad
Anne also personally intervened to help evangelicals in trouble in mainland Europe. When Francis I turned against the Reformers in France Anne did her best to help them, including a poet called Nicholas Bourbon... he wrote of Anne: 'How can I express my thanks, still less, O Queen repay you? I confess I have not the resources. But the Spirit of Jesus which enflames you wholly with His fire, He has the wherewhithal to give you your due' (quoted by Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 261).
... Soon after her coronation Anne worked to restore the Antwerp merchant Richard Herman to membership of the Society of Merchants from which he had been expelled for helping to distribute copies of the New Testament in English. IN May 1535 William Tyndale was arrested in Antwerp, betrayed by one of Thomas More's agents. Anne acted with Cromwell in putting pressure on Henry, who had the necessary letters written in an attempt to secure his release. For whatever reason this was unsuccessful, the famous Bible translator eventually being strangled and then burnt on 6 October 1536.

Anne influenced key Church appointments
Anne worked hard to ensure that key Church appointments went to evangelicals, and her influence predated her coronation; she was recorded as far back as 1528 putting pressure on Cardinal Wolsey to appoint clerics who would promote reform. Before 1532 newly appointed bishops were mainly of orthodox Catholic persuasion; from 1532 to 1536 eleven bishops were appointed, nine of whom were considered to be evangelicals, such as Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Shaxton, Thomas Goodrich...

Anne saw the Bible in English as a goal
Anne's fluency in French gave her the privileged position of reading the Bible for herself - a privilege she was keen to see extended to all her English-speaking subjects. According to Latymer she kept a Bible in English in her rooms fro anyone to read who wished to do so...

Anne promoted the trade in Bibles and evangelical books
This trade was illegal. Her brother George was particularly active in the trade; with the protection of his family connections he would smuggle controversial works back to England in his diplomatic bag... As recently as 1998 it was established that George translated the French commentary into English. It carried a dedication to Anne showing a strong affection between brother and sister, and a common cause - the evangelical faith. Another work was the text of the Bible book Ecclesiastes with a commentary, also probably by George, emphasising in clear vivid language the need for a living faith in Christ... it was not just through George that Anne worked - she had her own contacts abroad, especially in Antwerp. Agents there supplied her with evangelical books, and she in turn supported those involved in the trade. Among the Reformers in Antwerp was William Tyndale; his translation of the New Testament was being smuggled into England in considerable numbers...

In the opinion of others...
John Foxe, writing in the 16th century, recorded: "What a zealous defender she was of Christ's gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world's end" (John Foxe, Acts and Monuments, v. 175)
Alexander Ales wrote in a letter to Elizabeth I that "true religion in England had its commencement and its end with your mother" (Letter to Queen Elizabeth, 1 September 1559. Quoted in Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, p. 264).
And in our own day, Joanna Denny writes: 'Anne Boleyn was the catalyst for the Reformation, the initiator of the Protestant religion in England' (Denny, p. 132).

I would love to share more of this chapter, but time (both for me and for you!) is short. We don't know what were the faith and motives of Anne Boleyn... over 500 years have passed. Yet this information seems to give support to the idea that Anne Boleyn was possibly an evangelical Christian. The Lord knows... perhaps she even came to saving faith by the grace of God! Even that possibility is encouraging, isn't it. An era in history which looked so dark was still illuminated with the light of the Gospel of Christ... the Holy Spirit cannot be quenched, and perhaps the Lord even called and greatly used that infamous Queen of England, Lady Anne Boleyn!












































Monday, 26 September 2011

180 Clip

Dear sisters, I pray you are encouraged by this video clip. The beginning presents a shocking view of our culture in thought, word and action, and is not for the feint-hearted. Evangelist Ray Comfort is used mightily to reach this rebellious generation with the biblical Gospel of Christ... the Lord is triumphing even in the greatest darkness and horror. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Romans 1: 16). Praise the Lord!


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Waiting


I was amazed to come across this poem tonight. The Lord's timing is so perfect. Praise Him!These are beautiful, convicting words; I pray that you are blessed by them as I was. There is no sweeter, greater, more precious thing than being taught by our Teacher, the Lord Jesus! There may be pain for a while... but who can fathom the depth and magnitude of the Grace and Love of the Lord! May His Name be praised. I love the words of this poem - and will finally leave you alone to read it :)...

WAIT


(Author Unknown)


Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried:
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.

I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, "Child, you must wait".

"Wait? You say, wait! " my indignant reply.
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I can relate
hangs in the balance, and YOU tell me to WAIT?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
And Lord, You promised that if we believe
we need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!

Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, "You must wait."

So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting.... for what?"

He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And he tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want--But, you wouldn't know Me.

You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;
You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there;
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence were all you could see.

You'd never experience that fullness of love
As the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove;
You'd know that I give and I save.... (for a start),
But you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

The glow of My comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight,
The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked
Of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.

You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that "My grace is sufficient for Thee."
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, Oh, the Loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!

So, be silent, My Child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still, "WAIT."

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Special Verse for Today

Of necessity, this will be a short post :). Tonight, I was blessed by reading this verse and the Lord laid it on my heart to share it with you. In thinking about what I posted yesterday, the Lord convicted me through this verse especially, and encouraged me. To remember Who I have believed, and that He is faithful to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

"I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices: my flesh also shall rest in hope" (Psalm 16: 8-9).

Praise the Lord. By His Grace, may we always set Him before us. He is our hope; our solid Rock, which cannot be shaken. In Him we will not move, will not be buffeted, rocked, disillusioned by the opinions and struggles of this world! The Lord is our Light and our Salvation. In Him we need not fear!

With love, from your sister in Him

Saturday, 17 September 2011

In the Light of His Preciousness

What props do our hearts truly lean on?
Today I was blessed to read a beautiful puritan prayer, out of a book called 'The Valley of Vision'. I've been challenged lately to think about how much value I truly place on man's opinion and estimation. Mainly because my desire to please was revealed to me in a big way! The Lord, in His grace, has shown me this more and more lately. How I listen to the strong opinions and criticism of unbelieving extended family, and try to bend wherever I can in order not to fulfil their negative impression of me. Several things about my life, mainly that I am a Christian and was educated through homeschooling, have placed me in a 'box' for them, and I try to change that impression in front of them, to show them that I don't just stay in that box! Recently I jumped in and said 'yes' to a suggestion of theirs, without truly waiting on the Lord. We all (my immediate family, that is) felt uneasy about it from the first, yet I still let the 'yes' remain a 'yes'. The day before I was to fulfil this commitment, however, the Lord finally convicted me to say no. In His Grace, He showed me the motives of my heart, and that I hadn't prayerfully sought Him for an answer. It was hard to go to those relatives and say 'no'! To, in some ways, confirm their opinion of me, and remain in the 'box'. But He helped me through this, with support from Dad, Mum, and a Christian Aunt who truly loves the Lord.
All this to say, that the words in this puritan prayer today truly convicted me on this same thing. That in the "light of His preciousness", all things of this world are "infinitely poor". It is my prayer today, that He may "wean me from all other dependences", like being dependent upon the good opinion of others. These 'dependences' are sneaky props for our hearts... all the while propping up our pride and self-dependance. I love the line in this puritan prayer which says, "Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me, delightful in all His offices, pleasurable in all His ways, and may I love His commands as well as His promises". May this be our prayer. It is most often painful and costly to give up these things... but the Lord Jesus is a priceless treasure, and in Him is all Life, Joy, Peace and Salvation. Praise His Name. I pray that you are blessed by these words.

My dear Lord,
I depend wholly upon Thee,
wean me from all other dependences.
Thou art my All, Thou dost overrule all and delight in me.
Thou are the foundation of goodness,
how can I distrust Thee?
how be anxious about what happens to me?
In the light of Thy preciousness
the world and all its enjoyments are infinitely poor:
I value the favour of men no more than pebbles.
Amid the blessings I receive from Thee
may I never lose the heart of a stranger.
May I love Thee, my benefactor, in all my benefits,
not forgetting that my greatest danger arises from my advantages.
Produce in me self-despair that will make Jesus precious to me,
delightful in His offices,
pleasurable in all His ways,
and may I love His commands as well as His promises.
Help me to discern between true and false love,
the one consisting of supreme love to Thee, the other not,
the former uniting thy glory and man's happiness
that they may become one common interest,
the latter disjointing and separating them both,
seeking the latter with neglect of the former.
Teach me that genuine love is different in kind
from that wrought by rational arguments
or the motive of self-interest,
that such love is a pleasing passion affording
joy to the mind where it is.
Grant me grace to distinguish between the genuine and the false,
and to rest in Thee Who art all love.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

For Him

(My cousin got married near this archway
in March... in my Aunty's garden :)

How weary and discouraging it is, to carry the burdens of life alone. And what sweet, joyful relief it is to hand those burdens over to the Lord Jesus, and abide in Him. Earlier in the week, I felt so discouraged by something, and it hung over me like a burden of lead. After I had wallowed in the discouragement for a time, the Lord showed me that I was focusing self-ward - turning my thoughts inward, to how unpleasant this thing was for me. How could He be honoured through this if, far from turning my eyes upon Jesus, I was focusing on... my own grievances? The Holy Spirit convicted me, through this experience, that I certainly will experience discouragement - in every circumstance! - while I'm just thinking of self. On the other hand, I will know the greatest of joy and victory if I go through every circumstance... for Him! This is our joy, to do everything out of love for Jesus. To see that no matter how apparently discouraging a circumstance seems, in Jesus it will most assuredly be a victory for Him, bringing glory to His Name. This is our purpose as His children... to do all things through Him, and for Him. I pray that you are blessed by this beautiful prayer, as I was.

Jesus, You shall be first in my life.
I want to talk with You and work for You.
I want to think over everything with You,
making all my decisions with You.
Nothing shall be done without You,
for I do not want to shut You out of my life.
Bind me tightly to You,
so that nothing-
no work, no burden, no other interest, no joy -
can separate us during this day.
So may I constantly live in Your holy presence:
for You are here!

May this day be dedicated
To You, Jesus, dearest Lord.
Troubles, cares - whate'er it brings me,
May Your name be praised, adored.

Lamb of God, beloved Bridegroom,
Grant Your grace to me this day,
That I may reflect Your image
In whate'er I do and say.

Help me to endure each trial,
Dearest Jesus, hear my plea.
Even on the hardest pathway
May You, Lord, be seen in me.

May I live to bring You glory
When Your name is so despised,
In all things, whate'er may happen,
Prove myself Your faithful bride.

(Basilea Schlink, My All For Him)

Monday, 29 August 2011

Beauty at Home

Several years ago, I discovered a box full of old, dusty books. I was exploring in my grandmother's garden shed, which was a rare privilege - we rarely visited her, living six hours away. I love old books, and these were made doubly special because Dad and his brothers had read them as boys - they seemed to have so many memories attached! One book in particular captured my interest, a musty-smelling hard cover with Dad's name written inside. It had the most beautiful black-and-white drawings inside - so beautiful that I took the book off the shelf again today, and looked at my favourite one:

Somehow, I'm always encouraged by this picture. Perhaps it's because I know the story behind it :). The girl you see baking is called Merry, and her nature suited her name well. However, she had one sadness. She loved things around her to look beautiful, but her family did not share this love. They were practical, hard-working people, who used their spare time to rest, eat, and enjoy the fire - not to pretty things up! What was the use of that?

So for a time, Merry was quite discouraged at home. Then one day, a motherly lady spoke a few words of counsel. How a young woman could add real beauty to her home with a countenance and attitude of joy, helpfulness and industriousness - or how a young woman, much as she loved beauty, could take still more beauty away from her home with a sour, ungrateful, discontented spirit. Merry went home, resolved to heed the woman's advice and value real beauty. It was not easy - living in a family that worked from sunup to sundown, she often sighed over the menial, hard, and unbeautifully practical tasks of each day, and instead longed to be tending flowers, or doing pretty embroidery. But in the picture above, the fruits of her labour are evident. With a joyful attitude, she has obviously had the time to do both her tasks and make the kitchen more beautiful! The prettily frilled curtains, apron and cap - even the plants on the window sill - are testimony of this. But most especially - Merry herself looks joyful, industrious and contented!

This story is so simple, yet it encourages me. It reminds me especially of the Proverbs 31 woman. She is industrious: "She... eateth not the bread of idleness". She is cheerful and contented in her role: "she worketh willingly with her hands". She was also virtuous and joyful! "Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come." She is also contented, because (in my experience :)) discontentment manifests itself in peevishness and a sour attitude: "She openeth her mouth in wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." I love to be reminded of this, because I believe the home is the Lord's mission-field, ministry, and calling for me! In my own strength, I cannot strive to be industrious, joyful and contented. I cannot produce the 'fruit of the Spirit' myself, because it is His fruit - but I can abide in the Lord Jesus, and seek His righteousness today, so that it is not I, but Christ, that liveth. I'm looking forward to the coming day, because Christ Jesus LIVETH!!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Light

It is a dreadfully helpless feeling to be without light. Several nights ago, the boys and I were awakened by Mum's voice, saying "Wake up - there's no power, and the chickens are in trouble. We'll have to ventilate the sheds by hand." Now we weren't talking about a handful of chickens here... over 350,000 little lives were at stake. No power - so no light, temperature regulation, or feed from the silos. There was also another issue: we had no power at home. No light! To make matters worse, it was the blackest time of night, it was raining, and it was cold. In thought as well as in fact, it was a black prospect. The thought of groping around outside, in the dark, cold, and rain, opening up smelly sheds... it was a bleak thought! But worst of all, overshadowing all things, was the helplessness of being in the dark. How truly incapable and helpless we are, when without light! It seems impossible to take a step forward in any way. Little Guy volunteered to find a lantern. So after a few minutes of stumbling, tripping and groping, he secured some light. It made the world of difference to see what we were doing! And just as he found the light, Mum returned to say that power was restored, and we had light again... and the chickens had light, heat and food, and would do just fine without our help. I felt so thankful to the Lord.

Yet, that memory has remained over the last couple of days... the impression of what a helpless feeling it was to be in the dark. Nowadays we are so well equipped - almost every need of daily life is met. This is convenient - but is it truly beneficial? Physically, yes... but spiritually? When we have almost every means at hand to be 'in control', how tempting it is to forget or at least make light of the fact that we live today, by the Grace and Mercy of the Lord. Usually when I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the light switch, I don't even think about what a blessing it is to have light... until it is temporarily taken away. But during that night He reminded me that we live and are sustained only by His mercy. "His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning." "Praise the Lord!".

The Lord also reminded me that He is the Light "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation". In the dark, we stumble around helplessly and hopelessly... hopelessly because we simply can't lift ourselves from this state... and we are all in this place of darkness before He brings us into the Light through the cleansing of the precious, redeeming blood of Jesus. We couldn't really 'move on' until the power came back on that night - and we had no control over that! We can't "walk in the Light, as He is in the Light" without Him reaching down, in His infinite Grace and Love, and 'turning on the power' for us. And He has 'turned it on'! He stumbled through the darkness for us... a darkness we cannot comprehend. And He found the switch and turned it on... He is the Lamp. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A Lamp unto our feet, and a Light unto our path. (I hope this all this makes sense, and ties together somehow :)

Praise the Name of Jesus! He is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. May we remember His great mercies today, and seek to walk in the Light! And above all, to sing praises to He Who is most worthy of all praise, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.

Love,

Maddy


Friday, 19 August 2011

In the Home

A family vision for the Lord, serving Him together from the home, is a challenging mission. I came across these quotes about the home today, and was greatly encouraged by them. I pray that you are, too!

Secrets of Happy Home Life

(J. R. Miller, "Secrets of Happy Home Life")

Home is among the holiest of words.

A true home is one of the most sacred of places.

It is a sanctuary into which men flee from the
world's perils and alarms. It is a resting place to
which at close of day the weary retire to gather
new strength for the battle and toils of tomorrow.
It is the place . . .
where love learns its lessons;
where life is schooled into discipline and strength;
where character is molded.

What are some of the secrets of happy home life?

The answer might be given in one word: Christ.

Christ at the marriage altar;
Christ on the bridal journey;
Christ when the new home is set up;
Christ when the baby is born;
Christ when a child dies;
Christ in the pinching times;
Christ in the days of plenty;
Christ in the nursery, in the kitchen, in the parlor;
Christ in the toil and in the rest;
Christ along all the years.

Christ is the secret of happy home life!

~

Home trials

(J. C. Ryle, "Without Clouds")

What careful reader of the Bible can fail to see
that Adam, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac,
and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Samuel
--were all men of many sorrows--and that those
sorrows chiefly arose out of their own homes!

The plain truth is, that home trials are one of
the many means by which God sanctifies and
purifies His believing people.

These trials are spiritual medicines, which
poor fallen human nature absolutely needs.

By them He keeps us humble.

By them He draws us to Himself.

By them He sends us to our Bibles.

By them He teaches us to pray.

By them He shows us our need of Christ.

By them He weans us from the world.

By them He prepares us for "a city which
has foundations," in which there will be
no disappointments, no tears, and no sin.

The believer looks forward to the final
gathering of a perfect family in which
there shall be . . .
no unsound members,
no defects,
no sin,
no sorrow,
no deaths,
no tears.

~

May we look to the Lord Jesus today, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and running the race with endurance. Seeking and submitting to the refining, renewing, and regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. And remembering that our one hope of overcoming in the home mission field... lies in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

An Epoch in the Life of a Cat

The arrival of two red kelpie puppies has not been a dramatic change for us, but for the three cats, it is proving to be a dramatic, ground-breaking upheaval :)



Over the last 12 hours since the puppies' arrival, Violet, Nessie and Rosie have abstained from food and drink, jumped at the sight of any moving thing, and slunk around like dark shadows. Their change of behaviour (and appearance, as you can see), has been remarkable! Their extreme vigilance in avoiding 'the enemy' is remarkable. It reminded me of the importance of vigilance in my own life: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith..." (2 Pet 5:8).

If a cat is on full-alert to face the approach of its enemy at all times, how much more important it must be, for us to be vigilant and watchful! "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12).

Through watching the hawk-eyed cats over the last day, the Lord also reminded me that I don't need to (that in fact, I can't!) fight this great battle alone, but can instead be vigilant to see the enemy's approach and look to Him. May we, in soberness and vigilance, look to Him today... and plead the precious blood of Jesus over us and our households in the hour of great spiritual attack. Praise Him, the battle belongs to the Lord! "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).


Monday, 15 August 2011

Filthy Cups

A milk-bucket bug is no fun. It arrives uninvited and stays overtime. Last year, we had no idea what a bucket bug was until the bacteria had made itself right at home. By that time, we had a real problem on our hands. It started with a smell. We were sitting at the dinner table, raising steaming cups of tea (with milk) to our lips, when Mum and I simultaneously halted in midair as the steaming smell hit our noses. Unsure as to the origins of the smell, we went ahead and sipped... and hastily put our cups back down (Dad has black tea, so he was spared :). The next step was to smell the jug of milk: again, we hastily put it away from our noses. Then ensued the hunt of trying to find the source of the smell. Was it the straining cloth? The milk containers? The milk bucket? Wasn't I cleaning the bucket properly? Was it something the cow was eating? And so the questions went on. Eventually, we decided that the milk bucket was the bacteria source. I was amazed, because every day I did the proper sterilisation process - the cold rinse, the detergent scrub, the hot rinse, and a day in the sun. What bacteria could survive such a cleansing process? But obviously, it could and was surviving, and thriving. In the event of such a germ crisis (the milk was no longer drinkable, and no amount of scrubbing and cleansing was helping), we had to take action. We debated on what to use, and finally settled on simple old bicarb soda. And after a week or so of consistent, diligent bicarb soda rinses, the milk was pronounced taste-free.

Well... last week, after many months of beautiful-tasting milk, the smell and taste came back... much to our horror. We weren't looking forward to the whole sterilisation process :). Back out came the trusty bicarb soda.

Through this experience which was twice repeated, something struck me. All my diligent scrubbing with detergent, hot water, and cold water couldn't thwart the bug. Yet the simplest, quickest rinse of bicarb soda and water, was enough to thoroughly kill it. Simple though this is, it got me thinking :). About our state before the Lord.

In Roy Hession's book 'The Calvary Road', the human heart is compared to a cup. Jesus passes by, and if that cup is clean, He can fill it to overflowing with the Water of Life. The problem is that in our fallen state, that cup is full of filthy sin. We see that filth, and what do we try to do? Like I tried to scrub away the bacteria from the milk bucket, we try to clean up that sin ourselves. To be 'good people', worthy of the Water of Life, who can scrub away that sin by attempting to change our ways

. But just as my scrubbing did nothing, our cup-cleaning works to no avail. The bug persists, and so does the filth in our cups. But if we ask Him to show us the filth in our cups, and give it to Him, He will cleanse those cups in His precious blood. The bicarb soda killed the germ without any of my scrubbing. Just so, the precious blood of Jesus ALONE washes our cups clean from sin, by His sacrifice - not by any efforts of ours to scrub.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5)

May we beseech the Lord Jesus to show us the filth in our cups today, and cleanse them by His precious blood, and fill them with His Living Water!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Pausing

In the daily busyness of life, I so easily forget to... pause. Recently, and today especially, the Lord is convicting me of how vital it is to take this pause each and every day. Even during a simple car trip with my Dad and Grandpa this morning, He opened my eyes to the beautiful things I miss and fail to see, when my thoughts are consumed with the next task or pleasure.

A church billboard, containing the words "A day that is hemmed with prayer, is less liable to unravel".

A fleeting but beautiful picture of an elderly lady standing on the veranda of her cottage, gazing at a garden of blooming flowers.

My precious family, sinners, but sinners saved by an amazing Grace, our precious Saviour Jesus Christ, Who is breaking, moulding, using and filling them, through His great mercy.


Four brothers and a little sister, who are in the hands of the Lord, and who bring such joy to every day.



The Lord's beautiful handiwork
















But best and most important of all, is to pause and consider our Lord Jesus.

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Ps 46:10

"... Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to day." Ex 14:13.

To day!

In pausing, standing still, seeing... He has so much to show us. There are so many "beholds" in the Bible - "beholds" addressed to His people who seek Him earnestly, and wait upon Him. These are just a few:

"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29)

"Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20:27)

"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already with harvest." (John 4:35)

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matt 10:16)

Through the grace of God, may we pause and see His Salvation early!

"And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word" (Luke 10:39).