Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Master Gardener

The soup is long since eaten...


And still the skies are cloudy.
Mum and I love baking warm meals
on these cool, rainy days.

Including salmon and egg pie...


And a delicious cinnamon, apple and walnut cake.


During this rainy season, Charlie the rainbow lorikeet
is entertaining two continuous, very friendly visitors.
They are certainly making themselves at home!


Yesterday, Harry, Guy and I went for a long traipse to catch a horse
with a sore eye.
There was a long break in the rain... a wonderful opportunity to
take some photos of the fresh and thriving greenery!


In the humidity, some very interesting specimens have
flourished:




And the trees are looking healthier than ever.



The dam is overflowing in a rushing stream. The camera
simply cannot capture the beauty of this new landmark...
what manmade vessel could adequately describe and depict
the Lord's wondrous handiwork?



The bubbling water is so fresh and sparkling clean. We
had a lovely time splashing our faces with it... until
the splashes proceeded from our own faces to each others'!



A couple of months ago, Harry scraped the rotten insides of a pumpkin
onto a strip of dirt away from the house.
Yesterday, we discovered that the 'scraps' took root!



It is amazing how the wasted seeds, so carelessly scraped onto the ground, are thriving much more than the pumpkin seeds we planted last year. This has also been the case with cherry tomatoes. We planted a crop several years ago, but the yield was scanty. Yet a year later, we had a literal 'plague' of cherry tomatoes, fat and shining and healthy... way too many to eat!

Maybe the seeds planted in the hearts of mankind, have a similar story. Our best intentions and most ardent attempts to plant and grow seeds in the hearts of others... do they flourish? Can they flourish without the sovereign and merciful touch and cultivation of the Master's hand? We cannot plan for His touch... but we can obey His leading. We cannot of ourselves supply the fertile soil or the water... but we can be guided by His Hand, and be His vessels of the seed, which is the Good News of the Lord Jesus!

Perhaps we have heard before that the Lord alone converts the heart... but do we hear this truth? Paul even rejoiced that people were not convicted and converted by his fine speech or charisma; that rather they were converted by the Holy Spirit! The Spirit of the Lord converted their hearts as they heard the Good News which he preached to them.
When the Lord Jesus opened my eyes to see this, it was as though a great burden was lifted. And then I realized.
I had been striving to 'convert' those whom the Lord brought across my path.
Carrying a great burden, rather than trusting.
Trying to bring forth my own words, and to convict others... rather than asking to be His vessel.
Oh, still there is so much to see and learn about total faith in the Lord Jesus, as the Master Gardener.
And indeed, I pray that He would open our eyes to see the many opportunities He places before us! How often I miss these opportunities.
In His infinite grace, may the Lord open our eyes, and quicken us.
All glory be to His name.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Rainy Days

It's raining and pouring this week... a dozen and more inches! The rainy weather is so enjoyable, but also inconvenient when it comes to outside jobs :). The road to our place has a creek running across it, and the driveway and surrounding lanes are running with water. And the grass is growing... and the frogs are croaking... and it is a wonderful time to achieve inside tasks!
I've always loved the rain, particularly at night - when it falls around the house like a protective blanket.




Don't know about you, but in the rainy weather we love to eat soup!
This morning I'm making a slit pea soup, and trying to find as many interesting
ingredients to add as possible.




A wonderful treat in this weather is tea. Oh, how lovely
is a cup of tea on a cold, rainy day!




Tea, for young and old!




Best of all, some interesting visitors have called by :).
First a pair of Butcher Birds




Then, a very sweet family... which started with one member...




And grew! From one to two...





Then three...




Four...




Five...



And finally, seven!
All seeking shelter away from the wind and rain.


Isn't it a blessing that we have the shelter of our homes in wet weather.
And what an infinitely greater blessing it is, to have a Refuge in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is our Refuge, and further, our Rock and our Foundation. Not only a Shelter from the rain, but a Rock on which to build, so that no wind, and no wave, can toss us while we stand upon Him.
And not only a shelter from the earthly storm, but also from the spiritual.
Oh, these spiritual battles are incomparably more fierce, and batter us as no earthly storm could.
There are times - most times - when the storm is too, too great for man to face, let alone stand firm throughout.
Have you been through such a storm?
My family and I have found that even what seem to be "little" storms, still are too great for us to 'conquer' or face in our own strength.
How can what is spiritual, be faced by fleshly strength?
What victory in Jesus, to instead be able to declare truly that "The battle belongs to the Lord"!
- That in every storm, we are hiding in the cleft of the Rock, trusting in the Lord Jesus...
for He has conquered, and He now is our Refuge.
Let us cling to Him, dwelling under the shadow of His wings.
Through every storm and wind.
And through the rain, which is a more steady and gentle buffeting force, which like the "small storms" can gradually and deceptively wear us down, unless we stand on the solid Rock.
Stand by faith, for He alone can even keep us standing on His foundation!
Blessed be His Name, for He is mighty to save and to deliver His people through any and every storm.










Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Heavenly riches

A little over two thousand years ago, the Jews were awaiting their Messiah. Some, perhaps many, envisioned that He would come as a great conqueror, one who would free them from the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Empire with a blazing sword of victory. They awaited a mighty King, who would subdue their enemies and wield a literal bow of bronze. One who was mighty in the eyes of the world, wearing man's jewelled robe of magnificence.

How could they have comprehended that the Name above all Names, the true Messiah, would pay the criminals' penalty... undergoing an incomprehensible depth of suffering? Would be mocked, despised, tortured and put to death by themselves, His own people?

What a striking contrast was the reality from the cherished dream. The reality was beyond the comprehension of the world, and indeed, still is. The Son of God died alongside criminals, though He had said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt 26: 53).

The world cannot understand this. The Jews could not understand, still cannot. They had awaited a king who would achieve magnificent triumph for them, in this world.

They could not see that the Lord Jesus Christ sought much greater riches than these. His glory was not of this world. Nor was the treasure which He paid for at great price.

"Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory..." (Col 1: 26-7).

Two years ago, I devoted an entire year to completing grade 12 successfully. For a year I was almost engrossed in this endeavour, and at the end of it, with the completed certificates in my hand, I was faced with one big question... "What next?". This question remained with me the whole of the following year.

While remembering and discussing this a couple of days ago, Mum said something interesting and thought-provoking. Ever since then, I've been 'writing it out' in my journal :), and would love to share some of these thoughts.

"Our Saviour sought and paid the price for heavenly riches... what about His people, who have been redeemed and purchased by the shedding of His precious blood? What are we seeking? What achievements or fruits do we count as 'riches'?

"In a simple, humble, quiet task, which is only the plop of a pebble in the ocean of 'success', who will look up with praise for the doer, and say "She is a success! See how she conquered the summit of the mountain! Read what a best-selling masterpiece she has written!".

"Rather, if a beautiful victory is gained or fruit is produced through the most unassuming and obscure of circumstances, wouldn't one look up in surprise and say,

"Jesus, You have turned a thing of no beauty into something beautiful. You have crafted something menial into something precious. You have changed something plain, dreary and dry into a colourful lesson. I was weak, because there was no worldly aspiration to drive me on, no hope of praise from men or earthly elevation. Yet in my weakness, You became my Strength.

"In something which already looks grand and magnificent in the eyes of man, there is not so great a need for Your beautifying Hand. But in something devoid of beauty, glory, and magnificence, there is every need for Your Hand. Therein is Your magnificence seen! Therein are Your riches discovered, for You are Sufficient and the Giver of all good! I am poor and needy and lacking... but my God shall supply your need, and mine, according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!"



Thursday, 5 January 2012

A Summer's Walk


Yesterday, while the rest of the family were resting... :)


Mum and I went for a walk. Just the two of us, which was special!
We stopped to pick some beautiful reeds.


At this time of year, they are just right for picking. The golden-coloured
seeds are in their full bloom of colour!


Mum remembers her mother drying these reeds in pots,
and putting them around the house. So we picked armfuls,
to take to my Grandma's.


It was such a special afternoon, tramping around the rustling reeds
in gumboots, finding new colours under the shade of the overhanging
trees.



For a summer afternoon, it was beautifully cool near the
water.




This bird obligingly paused for a moment :)


Earlier that afternoon, I had been feeling troubled and 'ruffled'.
But after walking for a time, and picking reeds, I was filled
with a new thanksgiving.

"...He is faithful that promised"!


By faith, Moses was hidden in a basket among the rushes of
a river.
The Lord protected, preserved and delivered him as he
lay amid the rushes, a helpless baby.



"By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called
the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;


"Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the
treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence
of the reward.


"By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king:
for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."
(Hebrews 11: 24 - 27)


"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)"!
(Hebrews 10: 23)

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2012... a new year

The house at Yarrawonga






Several years ago, we went on a trip out west and visited the sheep station where Mum grew up. A large place of sweeping, dry plains, called 'Yarrawonga'. Only 25 or so years ago, Mum left this home. When we went to visit Yarrawonga, there was something we were unprepared for - the great changes that are wrought over time!




A little hut, which was deserted when Mum was a girl
The place looked so deserted and decaying, beaten about and rusted in the weather, falling apart from lack of use and maintenance. To us children, it looked old, old, old, and we could hardly believe that the place we were seeing had been a thriving, busy hive of industry only a score of years ago. Sam and I persisted in believing that it had been deserted for at least a hundred years or more :).





Today, the first day of the New Year, we enjoyed reflecting on memories like these. I opened my journal, and realised with a shock that it has been nearly six months since I last wrote in it!







Looking over these pictures, remembering Mum's childhood memories, and reading over my journal entries, reminded me so much of how life changes. So many changes, and so quickly!
Our life on this earth is so quickly passing, so frail and transient. Full of change.


The manager's cottage



What was once thriving, is quickly stilled.



What was shining and new, so quickly fades and rusts over, on this earth "where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal".








We are so busy with one task on one day, and moving on to a new one the next.




Mum's bed :). Mum longed for a new bed for years
when she was little, because her old one sagged in the middle
Finally, on her birthday, she was presented with a
new bed, this one!



The seasons change, one upon the other, without variance. Yet even here, there are changes. Frailties. A season of rain, may turn to flood. A season of dry, may become a season of drought as has stricken the land on Yarrawonga.


Our bodies grow old and weary, feeble and pained so quickly, as season passes into season.



So also are we ever changing in mind and heart, growing through the many changes of each year.
What a blessing it is to grow, if that growth is in the Lord.






Dear sisters, there is One Who will never change. A solid Rock amidst the many storms, He cannot be shaken.





He Who holds the world, in His Hands.
An old-fashioned, hand-operated wool-press. 

The shearing shed

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "... the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1: 29).








He Who said,

"Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away" (Luke 21:33)

"For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you." (1 Peter 1: 24 - 25).

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing" (John 15: 5).

In all years, past, present and future, He is our Hope! May His Name be praised!

Happy New Year, may He bless you

:) Maddy