Monthly Archives: February 2012

Internet Dangers in the Home

Barns in Scandinavia are built in such a way that vermin are prevented from getting in. The harvest is precious and, in past years, it meant that a family could survive another harsh winter.

It never ceases to amaze me how casual parents are about the computer use of their children. Young children often have access to the world in the privacy of their bedrooms without any supervision or protection. “My child is responsible.” “We need to respect their privacy.” The precious children are open to attack by all sorts of vermin. I still remember the first time I rang a dad and suggested that there was evidence that his daughter was being “groomed” on the internet. This was happening out of school hours but I felt I had a responsibility to alert him to the possibility. I was roundly abused. Later my fears were proven to be well founded. But I never received an apology or a word of thanks for the warning. It did teach me at the time that many parents are wilfully foolish with regard to the protection of their children.

Unlike the harvest, too often our precious children are not protected.

How should a committed Christian parent be training their child in internet and computer use? I have lots of ideas, but I would love to hear from parents. What are you doing to ensure the spiritual, moral and emotional safety of your children?

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A Different Reality

Not so long ago, if you saw someone talking to themselves, you quietly thought that they had kangaroos loose in the top paddock or were a few palings short of a fence. Nowadays it is more likely that they are using a hands free mobile phone. There is a new reality that explains this behaviour.

It is a handy illustration. More and more, Christians are being sidelined as irrelevant and anachronistic. We are often considered to be simple and foolish because we have a faith in the God/man who died on a Roman cross 2000 years ago. But this faith is the reality we work from. This is the worldview that arranges our understanding and meaning of all that surrounds us.

Taking on the values of the society in which we live is easy and often done unconsciously. However, our reality must be shaped by this God/man. When we look at ethics, work, politics, leisure and all the other components that make up modern life, is it Christ that shapes our thinking? Yes, we may appear like a person talking to themselves in the pre-hands-free mobile phone age. The truth is, however, strikingly different. We are saying through our words and lifestyle that our worldview/perspective on all life is shaped by Christ.

We may be called mad or foolish but there is a different, eternal, reality that drives us.

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Jesus Clears the Temple

One of Hetty’s reflections: John 2:13-16

I’m right behind Jesus. Since he did that miracle with the wine at the wedding, I want to see everything he does. This seemed like a routine visit to the temple … until …

I’m on my way home. I have to give some serious thought to what I’ve just seen. Jesus was a man out of control, or was he? What did he mean when he said, “My father’s house”? That would make him … the son of God! Can that be true? What about the line about destroying the temple? If, if, someone destroyed such a structure it would take more than three days to build it again. It would take another miracle.

I’m sticking with this guy. Whatever he does next, I’m going to be there to see it.

Lord help me to keep my eyes on you. Not because I have to witness the miraculous, wonderful as that would be, but because you are the one who made me. You love me more than anyone else would. Stepping with you will be the best way I could travel through life. You know what will cause me to stumble, and if I’m close to you, you’ll gently take my arm and tell me, “Watch that stone there Hetty. Don’t trip over.” Thank you Jesus for being the best travelling partner. Amen
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Worship, a Dialogue With God

Occasionally my wife and I visit other churches. Most of those we visit see worship as an experience – an event in which the music, in particular, creates an emotional “aura”.

This morning we attended a church in which the worship service was a dialogue with God. From the ‘Call to Worship’ in which God calls His people to gather before Him, to the ‘Blessing’ at the end, in which God gives His last word as He promises to be with His people throughout the coming week, the service was a conversation- initiated by God.

The people responded with songs and prayers. God declared His righteousness, we confessed our sin, and then He reminded us of our forgiveness in Christ. Through the preacher He declared His word to us and we responded by singing a song declaring our obedience to and trust in, His word.

Old fashioned maybe, but refreshing certainly! It reminded me that worship is about God first and foremost. We declare His ‘worth’.

So today as you go/went to church, was it/ will it be mostly about you or God? In the conversation, what did God say to you, and how will/did you respond?

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The Joy of Psalms

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The Psalms – God’s Word for Our Daily Walk

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

There was a time when I was under a great deal of pressure on a daily basis. Going to work was a trial. I had to force myself to face each day anew.

Then I discovered the Psalms for myself. I say, “for myself”, because in my time as a pastor I had regularly used them to bring peace, hope and healing for others. To be honest, I had never discovered them for myself. That changed.

Each morning before I went to work, I spent time with God. I ended each morning’s devotion by reading a Psalm. Very  quickly I discovered that the concluding Psalm became God’s pep talk for me, to encourage me into the day:

 Those who know your name trust in you, 
   for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10
Keep me safe, my God, 
   for in you I take refuge. Psalm 16:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation— 
   whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1

So every morning as I went out to teach, I had the words of God ringing in my ears. This morning “ritual” enabled me to understand that God was a regular companion with me as I entered my day. There were other results. I have to confess, I began to see the Psalms in a far more personal light. The Psalms weren’t just comforting greeting card passages, but they were God’s revelation to me, His child.

To this day, when I read certain Psalms, they remind me of my struggles, but better still, they also remind me how God carried me through this time.

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Why Poetry?

I was asked the other day,
“Why bother?
Why write poetry?”
Good question.
We can play with words and worlds,
build and shape
amazing images in the mind,
ask questions that puzzle, perturb,
and unsettle.
The poet can arrange
change and change again
until the thought is
precise, pointed, polished.
The joy is in playing,
with sounds
– phonic orchestrations
not worrying
if it is ‘good’
… or ‘bad’.
The wordsmith’s heart
exalts with choruses 
of phrases and words
that books and essays
could never complete.
The thought, the phrase,
idea and pearl
never stand still.
Always morphing
with reading and rereading.
The poet is 
priest and prophet.
Interceding and declaring!
Heralding caution and hope.
Why write poetry?
I’ve only warmed up!
Categories: christian, Christianity, Poem, poetry | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

The Wedding at Cana

A reflection by Hetty on the Wedding at Cana. John 2:1-11

A bystander at the Wedding at Cana: I surely must have had as much to drink as those around me, but the celebrationns are set to continue for a while yet. On observing Jesus talking his mother to task and giving strange orders to the servants, my interest was piqued. How amazing the resulting miracle! Who is this man? Who is he related to? Where can I find out more about him?

To follow Jesus at this point would be to follow a magician, a sideshow.What about when he begins to say things people don’t want to hear? What about when he starts to make demands of me?

Lord, may I grow in my understanding of Jesus day by day. Please give me the faith and courage, not just to know him, but also to follow him, willingly, in obedience.
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Taking a PE Class

There are times
when my pedagogic versatility
is limited.
As when
I am asked to take
a PE class.
My age,
hand-eye coordination
my lack of passion
all conspire against me.
To run, jump
throw and kick
without any evident purpose
inspire no joy –
no thrill
in my soul.
The scores,
shots for goal,
dashes to the finish and
shouts of elation,
leave me,
But when a perfect word,
articulate phrase or
beautiful sentence
springs to life
in a student’s hand,
my heart rises and
soul sings.
This IS life!
This IS being truly human!
Animals can run faster,
fish swim further and
birds fly higher,
But only we,
bring ideas,
and thoughts,
wisdom and dreams
to vibrant life …
with Words.
Categories: christian, Devotional, Poem, poetry | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Bible and Other Readings for a Walk

My wife has set me a challenge. She wants me to come up with a series of Bible and other related readings for the Camino we will be travelling on in April. (I explain this in a previous post: Walking)

I’d love to hear from people who have good suggestions to add to our list. What Bible and devotional readings can you think of to encourage a physical and spiritual walk, as well as an appreciation of God’s creation?

So far I have:

Day One
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Psalm 84
New Testament: Matthew 4:18-25
  1. What is the overall emotion of Psalm 84? Why? How would that translate for the NT Christian?
  2. What are the implications for us from the Matt passage?
  3. Are there things you wish to discover on the Santiago pilgrimage?
Other readings:
Who would true valour see by John Bunyan (From Pilgrim’s Progress)
Day Two
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Ruth 1
New Testament: Acts 9:1-19
  1. In Ruth and Paul’s experiences there are parallels and differences. Are they important for us to understand?
  2. Is there anything for the C21st Christian to discover from Ruth’s life?
  3. How is god revealed in these two passages?
Other readings:
The Passionate Man’s Pilgrimage
By Sir Walter Raleigh
Day Three
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Psalm 121
New Testament: Acts 10
  1. How does Cornelius reveal himself to be an exceptional man?
  2. Are there ways in which Psalm 121 can be an encouragement on your pilgrimage?
  3. How can this pilgrimage be seen as a metaphor for our lives?
Other readings:
A Pilgrim was I
Day Four
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Gen 12:1-9
New Testament: Matt 2;13-18
  1. What lessons are there in Abram’s and Jesus’ Families journeys, for us?
  2. How are faith and hope revealed?
Other readings:
A LOVE SONG by Saint Teresa of Avila
Day Five
Bible Readings:
Old Testament:Judges 4:1-10
New Testament: Matt 9:9-14
  1. Pilgrimages are often/usually calls to go against the flow. How do these two passages illustrate that?
  2. How are we called to go against the flow?
Other readings:
Anima Christi – C14th Prayer
Day Six
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Psalm 122
New Testament: Philippians 2: 12-18
  1. Spend time reflecting on these passages and considering both the joys and struggles of our daily pilgrimage.
Other readings:
O Happy Band Of Pilgrims 
Day Seven
Bible Readings:
Old Testament: Ezra 1:1-8
New Testament: Luke 18:15-17
  1. What is the yearning that drives the exiles? How can that inspire us?
  2. How can we encourage our children to see life as a pilgrimage rather than an end in itself?
Other readings:
He that is down needs fear no fall,
John Bunyan

Categories: Camino, christian, Christianity, Devotional, Faith, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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