Burma quake suffering

Burmese woman sitting in the rubble of an earthquake damaged house

Yet does not one in a heap of ruins stretch out his hand,
and in his disaster cry for help?
Did not I weep for him whose day was hard?
Was not my soul grieved for the needy?
(Job 30:24-25 ESV)

I’m sure I’d be stretching out my hand for help if my house collapsed in an earthquake. It is natural to cry for help when disaster strikes. But do we weep for those whose days are hard? Is my soul grieved for the needy?

Before you answer those questions, here is another one to consider – are we obliged to care for all of the needy?

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure of what the scriptural rule would be, but my gut feeling is that we are obliged to meet the needs of the people we encounter in real life when we have the means to do so (James 2:15-16 and 1 John 4:20-21). I think this is important to be mindful of in these days when we have purposefully heart-wrenching footage of disasters from around the world shoved in our faces daily. For most of human history the only disasters a person would be aware of were those occurring within a maximum of a 100 mile radius of home. Now we have evocative news of worldwide disasters continually before us.

So what to do? It would be naive and selfish to turn a blind eye to the truth of all the suffering in this world. Yet there is also no point in feeling condemned for all the unmet needs out there.

An approach which I am taking is to focus in on the issues facing one group of people. Ever since participating in the month of prayer for the Shan people of Burma in October 2010, I have not been able to ignore the needs and suffering of these people. So I avidly monitor news from Burma and continue to pray for them. Some of that news is from Vision Beyond Borders who recently sent a team into the area affected by the recent 6.8 magnitude earthquake on 24 March:

We are in Yangon, everything was safely delivered through Customs and is being shipped north to the earthquake affected areas. It seems the government has offered very little help. We are hearing that the villages in the mountains were affected the most. The people are very fearful as the tremors have not stopped. The people who live in brick and concrete houses are afraid to stay in their houses for fear that they will collapse on them.

One of Pat’s contacts here is seeing if he can get permission for us to travel up north to where the earthquake was, but that is also where the genocide is occurring and hence it is a lot harder to get to. The government doesn’t want anybody to find out about the earthquake or any outside help to come in. We were looking at some pics of the devastation and there are some cracks that are about two feet wide and twenty feet deep; looks pretty bad. Just heard this morning that there are still tremors going on!

News from Vision Beyond Borders, Saturday, 23 Apr 2011 (www.visionbeyondborders.org)

Prayer requests

Please continue to pray for the nation of Burma as they recover from the earthquake. Pray God will protect the people, and they will be able to find adequate shelter and food until their homes are able to be rebuilt. Please pray for the children who lived in the Children’s Home that was destroyed, and pray all will be protected from the upcoming monsoon rains. (www.visionforburma.com)

Gratitude list

Purposefully taking note of the ways in which God is whispering to me “you are loved”.
In so many ways I go through my life forgetting to worship because I am preoccupied with my own agenda. By making a point of listing God’s gifts to me I am finding my heart more often lifting worship to God for His unending blessings.

The idea of listing the gifts God has already given is not my own, it was inspired by Ann Voskamp and her wonderful writing (and photos) at A Holy Experience and her book One Thousand Gifts.
I use the Greek word eucharisteo to describe this listing of gifts from God and thanking Him for them. This again is copied from Ann Voskamp. Eucharisteo means:

  • to be grateful, feel thankful
  • give thanks

It also contains the root words charis, meaning gift or grace; and chara, meaning joy. So in giving thanks to God grace, thanksgiving, and joy all come together. I am in desperate need of all these, so the noting and noticing of blessings continues.

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”
(Psalm 50:23 ESV)

The gifts I have listed so far:

  1. God’s grace to me in Christ Jesus.
  2. My beautiful, faithful wife.
  3. Three wonderful children.
  4. Continual provision of enough as our family has grown.
  5. The grace that keeps making me grow as a father and husband.
  6. Daily chores that leave my mind free to think about God stuff.
  7. The ventolin that helps my little boy to breathe.
  8. Words, which express and mold our hearts.
  9. Books written by wise people who love God and want to build up His Church.
  10. A home that is weatherproof, warm and comfortable.
  11. My wife’s love
  12. Quietness and headspace.
  13. A second-hand dishwasher which does the job just fine.
  14. This encouragement to meditate upon Your gifts.
  15. The anticipation of small delights ahead of me this day.
  16. The ability to choose not to embrace needless consumption.
  17. Limits on my income which moderate my selfish spending.
  18. A daughter’s delight in hearing the Bible read to her.
  19. The gift of sleep to refresh body, mind and soul.
  20. My daughter wanting to show me the wood pigeon mask she made at playcentre.
  21. Coffee to help me get going in the morning.
  22. The drugs which help lift me out of despair.
  23. That my ATM card was not declined last time I used it!
  24. God reminding me to pray for my kids when I’m tired and can’t be bothered.
  25. Giggles from my 18-month-old son playing with Poppa.
  26. The persistence of a child in playing her violin and her enjoyment of music.
  27. Opportunity to vote for who will govern our city.
  28. Increasing awareness of my own weakness and Your grace.
  29. Daughter falling asleep still holding her hand out for me to pray for her.
  30. Life and beauty budding forth during a spring storm.
  31. A cup of tea and conversation with my wife.
  32. Beautiful songs that turn my heart again to Jesus when I am weary and filled with worldly concerns.
  33. Children laughing together playing outside.
  34. For Your reminder when I wipe the tears from a child’s cheeks that You will wipe away all our tears (Revelation 21:4).
  35. Water, this sustainer of life which You pour freely from the skies.
  36. Our old house remained weatherproof!
  37. That time continues ticking by even when waiting is hard.
  38. Helpful IT experts who transferred my blog to new servers for me.
  39. A warm fire on a cold evening.
  40. The unhurried pace of gardening on a sunny day.
  41. The sun drenched sofa on our back porch.
  42. Hannah asking me to take photos of spiders and bugs.
  43. The joy of getting a gift to delight someone I love.
  44. Toddler waking up in a happy, contented mood.
  45. A struggling friend making it to church.
  46. Familiar places.
  47. For giving the strength and ability to be what I need to be.
  48. A city greening with spring, and blue skies.
  49. Mother and daughter eating ice cream while watching Miss Potter.
  50. Kids enjoying rainbow lollipops.
  51. Our entire family of five piled onto the couch for a cuddle.
  52. A father-in-law who loves his daughter mightily.
  53. People who can express things I didn’t understand about myself until I read their words.
  54. A new vegetable garden all ready to plant out.
  55. A simple dinner with friends and happy children.
  56. A career dream come true.
  57. Reminders from God’s word of how transient my contentment can be (Job 29-30).
  58. The cumulative wisdom God gives humankind (Isaiah 28:24-29).
  59. The delight that lollipops from Dad brought to 3 children.
  60. My son seeking out his Dad for cuddles.
  61. Worms, that turn waste into life-giving soil again.
  62. Fascination of watching a giant meccano set being assembled (new stadium).
  63. The smell of poplar trees.
  64. Redemption purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ.
  65. A child’s gift (flowers in an egg cup) on the kitchen window sill.
  66. Moments snatched with God.
  67. A safe journey to, and return from, our holiday.
  68. The baptism of three Shan-Tai believers in Thailand last week.
  69. Being home.
  70. A reminder from the writings of John Piper that I need to keep my mind fixed upon what is pure in order to have joy in Christ.
  71. Reminders that I should exercise.
  72. The hope, and the heartache, of praying for the Shan people of Burma.
  73. Humble workers in my garden (worms).
  74. Your patient, constant molding of me.
  75. Daily rhythms of life that make me slow down and thank You.
  76. Sunshine at the bus stop.
  77. Reminders of my childhood fascination with the world You made, before I even knew You.
  78. Someone on the other side of the world ‘scratching in the dark‘ to remind me that it is necessary and possible to seek You daily amidst the chaos of ordinary parenting.
  79. Seeing my 20-month-old son running to me soon after we began a frantic search for him.
  80. The irrational fickleness of children’s behavior reminding me of my own erratic walk with You.
  81. Work that engages my heart and mind.
  82. Rest from striving to be what I am not.
  83. Birthday cards lovingly made for me by my children.
  84. That You don’t rush in communicating with me.
  85. Security and comfort You continue to give me.
  86. Having a spare ethernet cable to replace the broken one.
  87. That there is beauty in cyberspace.
  88. Delicious jam for breakfast.
  89. Helping me to not buy lunch today.
  90. Enabling/reminding me to pray for all three of the kids tonight.
  91. Being able to get flowers for my wife on the way home.
  92. Sun shining on the back hedge this morning.
  93. Hearing sheep and birdsong from my back porch.
  94. So very many times that I have been able to thank You for bringing a child safely through another day.
  95. Showing me one small way in which I could serve my wife.
  96. The wonder of Mark chapter 3, that the Son of God incarnate was recognized by demons but not by men.
  97. Finally getting the motivation to walk home from work.
  98. Wholesome alternatives to Halloween for the kids
  99. The fresh smell of a new spring morning.
  100. First-hand experience of how hard my wife works every day.
  101. Your comfort even while my emotions plummet.
  102. An excellent vantage point to take a photo from.
  103. Sick leave.
  104. Falling asleep on the sofa on our sunny back porch.
  105. Eating an ice-cream while walking home from work.
  106. Preserving me.
  107. Watching a daughter constructing with Lego.
  108. Paracetamol.
  109. A church fellowship of broken people who appreciate broken sermons.
  110. Grandparents helping a stressed son-in-law.
  111. A good cup of tea at the end of a day of too much coffee.
  112. A phone call reassuring me that her trip went fine and they are on their way home.
  113. Catching up by candlelight.
  114. Wanting to lose weight, even though I don’t have the energy or time to exercise more.
  115. Waking up despite my alarm clock being turned off!
  116. Being more conscious about what I am eating.
  117. Headspace to recharge while walking home.
  118. Encouragement to be an upside-down blogger.
  119. A glorious calm spring morning.
  120. Children giggling in their Mum’s bed.
  121. Grace keeping me from getting angry about being caught in a downpour.
  122. Lying on my back watching clouds.
  123. 22-month-old dancing to Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn and Herbs.
  124. 2 hours of fun from a cardboard box.
  125. An evening walk.
  126. That in Christ greatness is attainable by all (Matthew 23:11-12).
  127. Little trees growing on a burnt-over, windswept hill.
  128. Free pine cones.
  129. Dinner cooked on our own barbeque.
  130. Peaceful sound of rain on the tin roof late at night.
  131. A quiet house for my troubled soul.
  132. Turning off the computer.
  133. Writing with pen and paper rather than keyboard and LCD.
  134. Lessons learned from a job I hated.
  135. That fools display their true nature to all (Ecclesiastes 10:3).
  136. The righteousness of Jesus overwhelming my rebelliousness.
  137. Not sleeping in!
  138. Having time to shave this morning.
  139. Being paid to learn fascinating things.
  140. That hunger/appetite can be my slave or my master.
  141. Being both too cold and too hot on the same day in the same town.
  142. A still and quiet heart from a walk on a still and quiet evening (Isaiah 30:15).
  143. The means to dispatch large spiders without getting too close! (i.e., flyspray).
  144. My 17 year-old watch that still goes great.
  145. My Mother-in-law making my favourite cake.
  146. Contemplating God while washing dishes late at night.
  147. Being mesmerized by the patterns of light summer rain falling silently on a pond.
  148. Gentle ‘plopping’ sounds as the rain gets heavier.
  149. Dragonflies hovering.
  150. A dog eager for me to throw a pine cone into the pond for him to chase.
  151. School camp.
  152. A washing machine.
  153. warm, sunny days to get washing dry.
  154. Memories of my own childhood adventures.
  155. A swim for two dogs who are hot and panting.
  156. A gentle, cooling breeze (see Jonah 4:8).
  157. Warm sunny days helping to burn away the fog.
  158. Clean water to drink.
  159. A dog who is expert at finding lost tennis balls to play with.
  160. Hope in Christ deeper than any circumstance or emotion.
  161. A new road layout, no more walking alongside trucks.
  162. The simple, brain-clearing rhythm of walking.
  163. Dear Heather, thank you for:
  164. Your peaceful presence.
  165. Vegetable gardens planted, tended and weeded.
  166. Laundry washed, dried and folded.
  167. Asking so little when you feel so empty.
  168. Clean floors.
  169. Your patience and compassion towards the child who torments you (they all take turns!).
  170. Meals prepared every day, without fail.
  171. Our budget finely balanced.
  172. Enduring the endless combing for lice in daughters’ hair
  173. A clean bathroom.
  174. A warm home.
  175. Children taken to appointments with dentists, doctors, dietitians, dermatologists, paediatricians, asthma nurses, violin teachers and many others.
  176. Learning an entirely new way of baking for our gluten-free girl.
  177. Endless picking up of toys.
  178. Dog walking.
  179. Squabbles mediated.
  180. Great conversations over cups of tea.
  181. Courage to confront me when I need it.
  182. Grace to let me figure out that I’m wrong and need help.
  183. Being my BEST friend EVER.
  184. Briny wind reminding me of a trip to be with God.
  185. The summery smell of lupins.
  186. Our kind neighbour who fixed my broken gate latch.
  187. A joy-filled wedding.
  188. Being able to just quietly go about life.
  189. Our Christmas baby of almost 9 years playing ‘Silent Night’ on her violin for our church
  190. Finally knowing what I don’t want to be like when I grow up.
  191. A good cup of tea.
  192. That the desire to praise God and speak of His glory can even overcome my fear of what others might think (sometimes).
  193. Kids loving Ann Voskamp’s ‘God stories’ before bed.
  194. The story of the Fall, which makes sense out of my sinful nature.
  195. An old dog frolicking like a puppy after some affection from her master.
  196. A bit of physical labour to harvest the bounty of the earth.
  197. Finding good books at a good price.
  198. Missing the ‘evening routine’ because I’m working afternoon shifts.
  199. Children playing outside on a warm summer morning.
  200. Warm, fresh, outdoor air kissing my skin.
  201. Making it to the bus stop in time (just!).
  202. My faithful wife and counsellor.
  203. Psalm 41 meeting my hurt.
  204. Being home.
  205. Rebukes (Proverbs 27:5).
  206. Being reminded to take my medicine.
  207. Knowing that a feast awaits me (Matthew 4:2-4)
  208. An enormous God-made sandpit for the kids to play in.
  209. Being able to hitch a ride when I <strong>didn’t</strong> make it to the bus stop in time.
  210. Making some (slight) progress on the list of odd-jobs to do.
  211. Change that makes me appreciate what is essential.
  212. A broken internet connection making me go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  213. My 5-year-old holding her arms out for a cuddle at the sound of my voice even though she is asleep.
  214. A quiet house.
  215. That our goal is perfection in Christ, not simply being better than others.
  216. The pleasure of lying down and closing sleepy eyes.
  217. A comfy bed.
  218. The security of being able to sleep without fear.
  219. A satisfied stomach.
  220. Being wakeful enough to function.
  221. The enjoyment of watching my little boy and dog playing with a ball together distracting me completely from what I was doing.
  222. Appreciation for my hardworking neighbour as I hear him mowing his lawns.
  223. Daughters missing home while on holiday at Grandma’s.
  224. Another dawn in our beautiful city.
  225. Tiredness reminding me of early days with new babies.
  226. Being outside in bright sunshine.
  227. Happy children.
  228. Getting a scrubcutter to attack the jungle in our back yard.
  229. My wheezy, asthmatic son snoring beside me in bed.
  230. A daughter wrestling with the meaning of the fall and Romans 7:7-25.
  231. The ESV Online Study Bible.
  232. A strenuous walk after sitting and sleeping.
  233. Literal windfalls for my gleaning.
  234. Crickets chirping.
  235. Laughter (Proverbs 17:22).
  236. The whole book of Revelation.
  237. My eldest daughter asking so many questions about God, the Trinity, how the Holy Spirit helps us, and what limits have been placed upon Satan.
  238. Encouragement to continue counting gifts.
  239. Grandma and Poppa reading bedtime stories.
  240. Rain interrupting my outside work, forcing me to tidy away tools and newly cut firewood before the real deluge began.
  241. Putting my agenda aside and going to bed because I am tired and need a proper sleep more than I need to cross one more item off my ‘To-do’ list.
  242. The grace to not have to try to be everything.
  243. Laughing out loud at a funny movie.
  244. Ephesians 5:13-14.
  245. Folding washing with my wife and best friend, chatting about children, long days, tiredness, and planning a break for us all.
  246. Mild spontaneous extravagance for Valentine’s Day.
  247. Work colleagues who share the load.
  248. My Friday on our Tuesday, which could even be your Monday. (Yeah, I get confused too!)
  249. Two-year-old son walking into the house wearing a toy bucket as a helmet.
  250. Rediscovering the joy of playing the flute.
  251. Problems which cause me to consider what I believe and why.
  252. Physical labour on a sunny day (Ecclesiastes 3:13).
  253. A shed slowly filling up with cut firewood and pine cones.
  254. Neighbours who at least have good taste in what music they play loudly.
  255. A lovely paediatrician who genuinely likes children.
  256. Gentle reminder from a friend, that I need to encourage a brother.
  257. Figuring out that the computer can do a tedious task for me.
  258. Love, which causes me to want to make her a cup of tea and give her the nicest cheese roll.
  259. The depth of Scripture (Mark 12:24).
  260. Cold tea because I fell asleep in the sun before drinking it.
  261. The Third Strand in our marriage (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
  262. A bowl of wild blackberries to eat, even if they are a weed!
  263. A young person standing up to let me have a seat on the bus (but does this mean I am now viewed by the young people as an old codger?)
  264. The fascinating strangeness of a stick insect I saw on the footpath.
  265. So many expressing compassion by words and actions
  266. Freedom to be a Christian openly
  267. My nine year old asking questions about the realities of faith that I didn’t get to until I was nineteen.
  268. Being corrected.
  269. Time, even though I use it so poorly.
  270. Two-year-old laughing to himself, then discovering why… he had found a stash of lollies!
  271. Air, breath, life ( Genesis 2:7).
  272. Grandma and Poppa safely home after a big trip.
  273. Slowing down to walk at a two-year-old’s pace around my own neighbourhood.
  274. Untangling ourselves from a bush lawyer.
  275. The huge sacrifices, of life even, so that we can have the words of life in our own language.
  276. The smell of freshly cut pine.
  277. An electric saw to make the wood cutting easy.
  278. An old sun-room’s worth of firewood.
  279. Cool, clean water to drink.
  280. That the jar of aioli I dropped landed on a wooden trolley rather than smashing on the tile floor.
  281. Surprising everyone with pancakes for breakfast.
  282. My kids super-excited at the prospect of living in a city made of gold! (Revelation 21:18-21).
  283. The kids sleeping the night in a tent, in their bedroom!
  284. A seat to rest on during a long wait for the next bus.
  285. Confidence that the bus will arrive as a shadow of my confidence that Christ will return one day.
  286. This noticing of His blessings, calming an irritated heart.
  287. Eating a lolly, sweetness, reminding me of when it was absent. Causing me to wonder how much comfort and pleasure sweeten what would otherwise be seen as obviously toxic to my soul. Is this why suffering is necessary?
  288. Unloading the irritations of my day to my best friend over a cup of tea.
  289. Being geographically isolated and not having nuclear power plants in our country.
  290. Putting my children to bed, giving them each a kiss, hugs, a prayer and words of love.
  291. The opportunity and motivation to learn how life is for those whose voice is suppressed.
  292. My heart being broken by the suffering of people in a land far away whom I have never met.
  293. God’s Spirit so clearly working in someone I used to think was a bit odd and have grown to deeply care about.
  294. Friends who I have not seen for 10 years coming to visit.
  295. Good food and good conversation over Sunday lunch.
  296. A great cup of tea made for me by my wife.
  297. The mysterious influence of a full moon.
  298. Safety of the Red Cross hospital in Benghazi.
  299. Struggling to remember the words of  Colossians 1:23
  300. Anticipation of a holiday this coming weekend.
  301. My heart peaceful and quiet, seeking to know Jesus.
  302. Two-year-old playing at washing dishes in the kitchen sink.
  303. Pre-warmed socks.
  304. Precious baby giggles playing peek-a-boo.
  305. Taste of a fresh apple reminding me of childhood orchards.
  306. A weekend away in a beautiful place.
  307. Our accommodation being upgraded for no extra charge.
  308. Fine weather despite a rainy forecast.
  309. Seeing my kids playing on a jungle gym the same as I played on when their ages.
  310. An evening with no computer.
  311. Feeling so much better after only one night away.
  312. Being nudged towards at least considering a big decision that I don’t want to make.
  313. My daughter writing a blog now too.
  314. Sincere words of love.
  315. Hard questions about faith  which drive me to prayer.
  316. God’s patience in waiting five years for me to appreciate the friend He has placed me alongside.
  317. Blissful sleep for a tired soul.
  318. No waiting list to get a sick child seen by a doctor on Sunday evening.
  319. Smelling chicken roasting.
  320. Kid’s rooms swapped around in one afternoon.
  321. Hysterical 2-year-old’s sister (5) engaging him and calming him down more effectively than either of his parents were able to.
  322. Realizing how little I know of prayer.
  323. Waking up from sleep having dreamed of visiting a Shan village in Burma.
  324. A calm, sunny autumn afternoon at Long Beach.
  325. Cuddles from my wife as her stress eases.
  326. A diagnosis for a child, even though I don’t like it.
  327. Bellbirds and Tuis singing in our street.
  328. Warm woollen slippers as winter cold begins to creep in.
  329. Honest words telling of a spouse who disdains your worship. I cannot change your situation, but I am praying for you.
  330. Your endless sleep deprivation. I am praying and trying to help where I can.
  331. Your heartbreak and fears for the future in the disarray caused by an unfaithful husband. I am angry too, I don’t know what to pray even, but keep asking God to comfort you.
  332. Shortened work hours, rising living costs and healthcare bills causing anxiety. Praying for you both.
  333. Unending headaches and stress. I cannot see why you must endure this but Jesus is walking with you and I’m asking Him to give you comfort in your endurance.
  334. Depression casting shadows across your soul. Asking our Father to be your light, comfort and hope.
  335. Past abuse that has generated hardships beyond my knowing. I see you as you are today and there is grace at work. Praying for continuing grace, comfort and peace.
  336. The Son of God who died for us.
  337. The generation of men who fought for us.
  338. Childhood memories.
  339. A nation remembering.
  340. Two rememberings on one weekend.
  341. My own brother.
  342. At work listening to Alexa Still playing ‘Elibris’ as dawn breaks.
  343. Peace with God.
  344. The Comforter steadying my wavering heart.
  345. Beautiful music.
  346. Daybreak, His mercies renewed each day (one ‘day’ this will not happen – it will not be needed anymore, what will that be like?)
  347. Ten years married and very much in love.
  348. passing the last of my training tests.
  349. A normal nights’ sleep, during hours of darkness.
  350. Little hands exploring my face at 5:30 am.
  351. Up early to read my Bible.
  352. Irises flowering on a sunny morning when I feel tired and full of a cold.
  353. Grandeur and pageantry of the royal wedding as a foretaste of the glorious wedding to come (Revelation 19:7).
  354. An Easter parcel all the way from Switzerland.
  355. Scrunching through autumn leaves.
  356. The smell of fresh flowers as I write.
  357. Walking my youngest daughter to school.
  358. Finishing off posts I began writing months ago.
  359. Holding the hand of a child when she slipped, preventing her getting hurt – just as my Father holds me.
  360. Unwrapping the last Easter egg, anticipation, wanting sweetness, needing life.
  361. Rain on the tin roof.
  362. Relaxing under the shower of Your Word as it washes over me.
  363. A wife who can read me better than I can see the signs myself.
  364. A helpful and understanding doctor.
  365. Rain has finally ceased, I see blue sky, sunlight even!
  366. Old smelly dog lying by the fire.
  367. Aching emptiness paralyzing – it means something I haven’t yet discovered.
  368. Word habits, drawing me back to You.
  369. A busy weekend.
  370. My little boy’s fascination and delight watching model railways.
  371. The adoration of a dog reminding me to worship (thank you, David B.).
  372. Audiobook speaking when I’m unable to read.
  373. Water resting in torrent-hewn pools.
  374. Brightness from even a grey sky.
  375. Her example – walk when in the grey.
  376. Breathing deeply through pain.
  377. Walking slowly, carefully, through slippery miry clay.
  378. Forest bursting full with the cycle of life.
  379. Swinging legs and arms energizing me.
  380. Fantails flitting around me, being fed by our Father (Matthew 6:26).
  381. Fingers pink and puffy from cold.
  382. Coming home to warmth.
  383. Life given by God, breathed across silver, creating a song of grace in worship to God.
  384. Pleasure in making a floor clean.
  385. Turning on a dishwasher when it is late and I am tired.
  386. A pleasant chat with my parents on the phone.
  387. Daughter baking a cake and helping to make dinner.
  388. Bad tasting medicine, that works.
  389. Contentment with our little crooked house.
  390. A quiet evening and early night when not feeling well.
  391. Fifteen minutes to ponder Colossians.
  392. Fresh coffee and bread smells on the main street as a workday begins.
  393. Roads and a bus that gets me home through the roadworks.
  394. A beautiful book, read beautifully by it’s author.
  395. Electricity filling evening with lights.
  396. Serving a forgetful girl rather than grumping at her.
  397. My wife’s sparkling smile.
  398. Student’s eating ice-creams on a sunny autumn day.
  399. Walking and praying.
  400. A quiet library.
  401. A few moments to stop and ask for God’s strength.
  402. Yummy dinner when feeling a bit stressed.
  403. Cleaning the kitchen floor, because the washing machine flooded.
  404. Home-made Turkish coffee… Mmmm!
  405. Traffic noise after the tragic silence yesterday.
  406. Dwindling wood pile keeping us warm.
  407. Hearth stopping hot coals from burning our house down!
  408. Growing accustomed to an un-routine lifestyle.
  409. Hot shower on a cold morning.
  410. Toast at midnight.
  411. Comfy woollen jersey.
  412. Small people who quail before an unrestrained ranting.
  413. Paradise ducks on the pond.
  414. Reminder that even the strong can fall.
  415. Walking out of shade into sunshine.
  416. Cicadas chirping.
  417. Rope swing in an old tree.
  418. Industry noises echoing around the hills reminding me there are echoes of Christ everywhere.
  419. A small army of lancewoods.
  420. Acknowledging a passing “I should have…” thought without beating myself up for it.
  421. Blinding reflections of glory.
  422. Cats lying on a roof to catch the last sunny warmth.
  423. Beauty of sailboats and steeples.
  424. A church who accepts me in my strength and, more importantly, in my weaknesses.
  425. Listening to ‘The Myst of Eden: Hope’ by David Teems.
  426. My 2-year-old son wanting a “cuggle” (cuddle).
  427. Weekend holiday with friends.
  428. Kids playing at the beach.
  429. A hot shower and electric blanket when feverish with chills.
  430. Breakfast lovingly prepared by my daughter.
  431. The wondrous immune system God gave even me.
  432. Home-made lemon-honey drink.
  433. We are charting a different course from the one that messed us both up.
  434. Being taught by a preacher who knows the word well.
  435. ‘Enough’ really is enough!
  436. Pondering the astonishing promise of Ephesians 1:3
  437. Music soothing my soul (1 Samuel 16:23).
  438. Seeing danger for what it is.
  439. The painful cleansing of confession (1 John 1:9).
  440. Toddler sleeping all night in his own bed.
  441. Someone to love me when I am not able to.
  442. Reminder from a friend to stop and smell the roses.
  443. Dinner at a family restaurant.
  444. Exploring lifestyle changes, considering alternatives.
  445. Parents coming for dinner.
  446. Kids showing off for Grandma and Grandad.
  447. A very tired girl after her friend’s birthday party and sleepover.
  448. Fumbling through hard conversations.
  449. Beginning to see that something is not right and could be better.
  450. Small improvements giving hope.
  451. Three hours of useful time through mis-reading my roster!
  452. A messy story encouraging me to just do the next thing.
  453. Some time to read quietly.
  454. Freely offering praises to God.
  455. Getting all the washing folded while watching a John Piper DVD.
  456. Finally fixing the leaky spouting.
  457. Stewed apples with custard and ice cream.
  458. Seasons; in a year and in a life.
  459. Fear and hope at opening up to another.
  460. Going to church after a night working.
  461. Being able to draw near to God through Christ, our High Priest.
  462. A mild winter (so far at least).
  463. This astonishing technological entity we call the internet.
  464. Encouragement today that even in this secular nation souls hunger for You. (The Harvest is ripe)
  465. An hour relaxing at the library.
  466. A friend who will take time to listen when time is what he has least of.
  467. Happy, noisy children waking me up.
  468. Psalm 139:12
  469. Praying for my kids.
  470. Good books to read.
  471. Bacon!
  472. This reminder from John Piper: Beware of presuming on the strength of youth. “Even young men shall stumble and fall” (Isaiah 40:30). [even if I’m not so young any more!].
  473. Eagerly looking for dawn when working night shift (2 Samuel 23:4).
  474. Reminder to look through my circumstances to see God.
  475. That sometimes simply doing my duty is enough.
  476. Pen and paper, helping me to think and unload.
  477. Eyesight – so fragile, so beautiful.
  478. Clock ticking.
  479. God’s strength (Isaiah 40:30)
  480. Opportunity to do some outside work today.
  481. Sunshine after working nights.
  482. Flowers in midwinter.
  483. Muscle-tiredness as a welcome change from weary-headedness.
  484. Watching old movies of the kids when they were babies.
  485. Tired girls after sleep-overs.
  486. 2-year-old up in the night unwell – opportunity to show him a father’s love by giving him medicine and cuddles.
  487. Depression – causing me to look closer at where my hope are placed.
  488. The neighbour’s dog barking loudly, it is happy (joy) to see them come home.
  489. My irritability – a reminder that I am setting my happiness upon trivial comforts.
  490. A crisp, clear, cold winter’s day.
  491. Noticing the storms clouds before deciding to walk to work (I will take the bus now!)
  492. Eating toast and reading the Bible at midnight.
  493. John 6:47
  494. Serving others by filling up the water filter.
  495. A broken egg for the dog to lick up.
  496. Little boy sound asleep with toy trucks in his bed.
  497. Left over chocolate fondue made by my girls.
  498. Opportunity to walk to work.
  499. Four layers of merino keeping me warm on a cold day.
  500. Little reminders of where I am failing to serve those I love.
  501. 30 minutes in a quiet house with a Bible.
  502. Being able to help just one child suffering in poverty.
  503. A cold morning cutting firewood with friends.
  504. A weekend snowstorm.
  505. Remembering to update computer anti-virus software.
  506. Too many good blogs to have time to read.
  507. Reminders that ordinary life counts for a lot.
  508. Friends making it home safely.
  509. Choosing to walk to work through snow and ice rather than taking the car and potentially crashing it.
  510. Snow for the kids to play in.
  511. Rain washing the snow away.
  512. A spare sermon already written.
  513. Asking my wife how I can help her feel more secure that I will never leaver her.
  514. Her honest answer.
  515. The tingle I feel when she kisses me (merino + synthetic fleece = electricity between us!)
  516. A job which occupies my mind and my time.
  517. Seeing again who I am and what I love.
  518. A good book finished.
  519. Dreams surpassed.
  520. A christian preschool for my son
  521. Barracuda washed up on the beach.
  522. Huge changes compared with one year ago.
  523. Friends visiting our church.
  524. Folks noticing if we are late.
  525. Enduring the day at work with a headache.
  526. Bus to bring me home at the end of the day.
  527. My children fed well enough that they can be fussy and waste some of their lunch.
  528. Firewood delivered and stacked before the latest storm.
  529. God kept the snow away so I could preach my sermon.
  530. Kids enjoying collecting pine cones on a freezing cold afternoon.
  531. Two-year-old son thinks my pathetic drawing of a tractor is wonderful.
  532. The faith and perseverance of others lifting me up.
  533. Ability.
  534. Cooking dinner for a change, letting my wife rest.
  535. Politicians I didn’t vote for.
  536. A friend searching for ways to help.
  537. Getting to bed at a reasonable hour.
  538. Being pursued to deal with my weaknesses.
  539. Those who love me making sure I am helped.
  540. An evening out at a movie with my wife.
  541. Realizing the blessings showered upon me when I see shattered relationships.
  542. Folks romping in snow in our church carpark.
  543. Abundance of cuddles from my kids.
  544. A warm ride to work through the snowstorm.
  545. Chocolate cake lovingly created.
  546. Roasting marshmallows.
  547. Workmate picking up some cough medicine for me.
  548. God already knows the ways in which I would fracture if put under pressure.
  549. Birdsong this morning.
  550. Knowing the ‘flu will pass!
  551. Someday all will be made new.
  552. Looking forward to a warm bed.
  553. Home-made popcorn.
  554. Paracetamol.
  555. Birdsong at dawn.
  556. At home sick with youngest daughter, watching Sleeping Beauty together.
  557. Blue skies after two weeks of gray.
  558. A weekend break away.
  559. Rainbow in the sink!
  560. Getting away from our usual routine.
  561. Getting away from my usual time-wasting computer habits.
  562. Excited, hyped-up children.
  563. All being together as a family.
  564. Holiday cottage reminding me of my grandparents.
  565. Realizing how poor some of my ancestors were.
  566. Waking up to birdsong and beauty.
  567. Pottery coffee mug.
  568. Sunshine.
  569. Peaceful walk on Moeraki beach.
  570. Enormous ocean calmness.
  571. Making sand mountains with my son.
  572. Him stomping the mountain down!
  573. Persistent dog with a stick.
  574. A warm wind for drying washing.
  575. Reminders of the need for, and power of, praying.
  576. Despite it’s hideous noise, the vacuum cleaner is a useful thing.
  577. Peace in our nation, allowing me to even consider folding laundry.
  578. Living in this place where ‘enough’ is in fact a lot.
  579. Calm harbour with ripples from birds catching fish.
  580. A sheep in the street (only in NZ!)
  581. Local fertiizer factory replacing the glass in some of our windows.
  582. Invitation to join 30 days of prayer for the Shan in October.
  583. A pay rise!
  584. The simplest sermon I have ever delivered.
  585. Learning endurance through pain and discomfort.
  586. Gastroscopy date drawing nearer.
  587. Walking.
  588. Rain.
  589. Walking in the rain.
  590. Old memories showing me that I have changed and grown.
  591. Godly discontent with my shallow faith.
  592. Today, this moment.
  593. Each time I get to kiss my wife and children.
  594. slightly tidier front yard.
  595. Remembering where to find some unusual information when it was urgently needed.
  596. A gift of tickets to take my daughters to the ballet.
  597. A colleague swapping shifts with me so I can see my daughters in their school performance.
  598. Birdsong heralding the dawn.
  599. That I can call a sunny day ‘glorious’ and know God made it reflecting Himself.
  600. A clear head despite tiredness.
  601. Morning tea with the kids in their tree hut.
  602. Lunch in the sun on our back porch.
  603. Children giggling.
  604. Being reminded that God counts me as His despite my sin and weakness.
  605. Little boy miraculously returned home apparently unharmed after being abducted.
  606. The flower poked under my windscreen wiper.
  607. All the people working through the night to provide services essential to our society.
  608. The prickly old holly hedge clippings transformed into rich garden compost.
  609. Daughter spending her pocket money to get lollies for her Mum, Dad, brother and sister rather than herselfl.
  610. Stepping out the door from artificial worlds into the coolness of light, sun, fresh air and birdsong.
  611. Internet down, so I get other jobs done this evening.
  612. My little boy ‘helping’ me as I do odd jobs.
  613. A cheap haircut.
  614. Knowing I am saving myself $10 per month elsewhere before the letter arrived asking for an $8 per month increase to our child sponsorship.
  615. That my eldest daughter still wants hugs with her Dad.
  616. Electricity at the flick of a switch.
  617. A box full of fun.
  618. A new toilet.
  619. Being scolded for overindulging the kids with dessert treats.
  620. A devout rugby player.
  621. People around to talk to instead of my own slightly mad company.
  622. Pleasant evening with my parents.
  623. Cleaning the oven (my wife’s most-hated item on her To-Do list).
  624. Building momentum for the October month of prayer for the Shan.
  625. Warm Nor-easter.
  626. Trampoline.
  627. Waving Gospel firebrands at the ‘black dog’ to keep it at bay.
  628. Freedom to worship without harassment.
  629. Clean water.
  630. Little hands washed before lunch.
  631. A couple dedicating themselves to work with the Shan.
  632. Toy tractors in the vege garden.
  633. Finding a new polarfleece top for only 20% of the marked price!
  634. Watching the new BBC Jane Eyre movie with my wife.
  635. just the two of us enjoying a walk on the beach together.
  636. Reminder to come to Him as I am, childlike.
  637. Cuddling my wee boy to sleep.
  638. Sitting in sunshine.
  639. Kids spending days building their tree-hut.
  640. Cooking dinner.
  641. A beautiful park to walk in.
  642. Reading and writing on a rainy day.
  643. Finding a baby stick insect on the floor and setting it free outside.
  644. Daughter playing compassionately.
  645. A refreshing cup of tea.
  646. My son has spirit and persistence.
  647. Girls giggling as they wash the car and each other.
  648. The story God is weaving into this ordinary life.
  649. That NZ has no snakes.
  650. Safe traveling on a long weekend.
  651. More than enough food to eat.
  652. Water at the turn of a tap.
  653. Clean water, with no pathogens in it.
  654. Hot water.
  655. A water filter to remove the chlorine from and cool my clean water!
  656. Electricity reliably provided to my home.
  657. The ability to pay the electricity bill
  658. Shops where I can buy what I need.
  659. Phone and internet connections.
  660. Choices in what I want to eat.
  661. Freedom to worship God without harassment.
  662. Bibles for sale in the local bookshops.
  663. Enough clothes to be warm and comfortable.
  664. Access to healthcare when I need it.
  665. Good dental care, even if it does cost a lot – when necessary I manage to find the money.
  666. A vote of equal significance to everyone else in elections.
  667. Warm shoes.
  668. Abundance of what I need.
  669. Art, making life more than making do.
  670. Delight on girls faces.
  671. A daughter wanting to imitate my Bible reading habits
  672. Rekindled desire to play music.
  673. End of my working day.
  674. The wonder of a gull in flight.
  675. Apples are cheaper than chocolate.
  676. My wife, who I could not live without.
  677. Daily, grace beyond anything I could ever deserve.
  678. Guilt when I lazily take others for granted.
  679. Coming home to pancakes after a night shift
  680. A rebuke from the book of Proverbs.
  681. My first run in a very long time.
  682. Career clarity from the example of hard-working refugees.
  683. King Saul and David reminding me of the value of music to my soul.
  684. Patching up a daughter’s homework that was ripped by her baby brother.
  685. Walking home from school with my girls.
  686. A friend sharing his story in church.
  687. Pastor John Piper.
  688. Being forced to face a hard decision.
  689. Grace at work in relationships.
  690. God’s ‘still, small voice’.
  691. Sermon prepared and delivered despite tiredness.
  692. Poison prevention talk delivered.
  693. Coffee and cake in a beautiful café.
  694. The aroma of real pine Christmas trees.
  695. Sunlight.
  696. God putting the sun in the heavens (Genesis 1:16).
  697. A peaceful election.
  698. Not being allergic to pine pollen.
  699. A quiet walk in the cool of evening
  700. Realizing that too much alone time can be very bad for me, even as an introvert.
  701. Neither parent over-reacted or got angry.
  702. The incident happened at a time we were able to cope – earlier in the day I was on a short fuse!
  703. The scribbles were in pencil, an eraser got it off.
  704. Grandparents coming to visit.
  705. Fresh apricots (the taste of sunshine as my wife says).
  706. Chocolate frogs (the cause of the tantrum).
  707. Better behaviour from naughty child this evening.
  708. We are gradually figuring out how this child interacts with the world.
  709. Still feeling love towards all my kids even when I simultaneously feel frustrated, angry, tired and fed up with them.
  710. My 19 year old expresso maker – broken, welded back together, broken again – but it still works!
  711. A book I wanted to read conveniently placed in my hands.
  712. A quiet day at home alone.
  713. The simple lunch I am enjoying.
  714. Beginning to enjoy my jogging.
  715. Daughters excited to start a new school year.
  716. God promises to supply all I need (Philippians 4:19)
  717. Reinstatement of our child disability allowance.
  718. My wife’s persistence in dealing with bureauracracy.
  719. Cheap 2nd hand stereo.
  720. Lots of cheap plants to go where the hedge used to be.
  721. Finishing my run despite being stung on the ankle by a bee.
  722. Renewed sympathy for the kids when they get bee stings!
  723. Starting a prayer journal for my daughter as we pray together.
  724. Antibiotics for an infected bee sting.
  725. A productive afternoon’s work.
  726. Taking the whole family to a movie together.
  727. Son enraptured by model engineering displays.
  728. A quiet house to myself for the afternoon while I prepare a sermon.
  729. The fog appears to be lifting.
  730. Another poison prevention talk delivered to parents.
  731. Guiding others through Bible basics.
  732. Small, incremental improvements.
  733. A few more steps towards healing and understanding.
  734. So many ideas that I don’t have time t use them all.
  735. Cheerful cheeping of a fantail as we walk together.
  736. Happy children on scooters on a sunny track.
  737. Renewed vigour and enthusiasm in our little church.
  738. Seeing the effects of God at work in people’s lives.
  739. Sitting in Govenor’s with a coffee reading my book and the 4 other people in here are also reading their books with a coffee.
  740. Finally getting a new sandpit built for my kids
  741. My son giggling hilariously in his dreams (sound asleep)
  742. A pleasant day pottering outside at home
  743. Simplifying one aspect of my life
  744. New insights from chapter 2 of John’s Gospel
  745. The pleasure of reading a book
  746. Luminous clouds with glory shining behind them this morning
  747. Pre-school teachers, doctor, medicine, and parents all available to help our wee boy during an asthma attack today.
  748. That he is sleeping peacefully tonight.
  749. Finding a prayer I wrote out several years ago and being able to trace some of God’s answers to it.
  750. Being ridden on as a “daddy dinosaur”.
  751. Son giving me happy spontaneous hugs.
  752. An afternoon weeding the garden – good for my soul.
  753. Pizza for dinner.
  754. Bus driver waiting when he saw me running.
  755. Finding a good book to give my daughter.
  756. A quiet day at work.
  757. Several early nights in a row.
  758. Watching ships cruise past from our front window.
  759. Finishing one of many painting tasks needing done.
  760. Colleague swapping shifts with me after I double-booked my time.
  761. Bellbirds and tuis singing.
  762. Paper to write on.
  763. Walking.
  764. Autumn sunshine.
  765. Seeing a child’s faith blossom and grow.
  766. 20 hours of uninterrupted time with my beloved wife.
  767. Joy in our hearts from reconnecting and leisurely time together.
  768. Some renovation plans.
  769. Eastercamp.
  770. Friends for dinner at our house.
  771. Having dinner at our friends’ house.
  772. People I know who inspire me (real people with real struggles).
  773. Opportunities.
  774. Someone helping me find paths in the wilderness.
  775. Sunny autumn days.
  776. Old holly hedge now providing firewood.
  777. Wonderful, glorious daylight.
  778. Technology, even with it’s pitfalls.
  779. Not knowing how little time I have left.
  780. Patting my smelly old dog.
  781. Waking up during the day when I should be asleep – at least I get to see some daylight.
  782. Time to think.
  783. Finding a refill for my favourite pen.
  784. Eleven years of marriage and still deeply in love.
  785. Craig, the only other man I know of who counts blessings like this.
  786. The love of my children.
  787. Fear and uncertainty holding me back from stupid choices.
  788. My family who loves and needs me as I am.
  789. The desire to write, even if I don’t know what.
  790. Happy memories to cling to.
  791. Encouragement from friends.
  792. A few days off.
  793. The quiet joy of writing with pen on paper.
  794. Church bells ringing.
  795. A good, long night’s sleep.
  796. It was an old pair of jeans I ripped when I slipped over and hurt my knee.
  797. Permanent reminder to seek joy by thanking God.
  798. Tradesmen to fix the hash I made of our bathroom.
  799. New bath installed, finally!
  800. Honest discussions about the darkness that haunts me.
  801. An understanding boss.
  802. Slowing down to think thankfully.
  803. Tiredness beckoning me to sleep.
  804. The doctor was right and my cynicism was wrong.
  805. Chatting to Mum and Dad on the phone.
  806. My brother getting the job he wanted.
  807. The end of my work week.
  808. A friend being told, “it isn’t cancer”
  809. Children all tucked warm in their beds on a cold stormy night.
  810. Warm water on my skin on a cold morning.
  811. A new TV.
  812. rabbit hopping along George street!!
  813. City lights sparkling like the frost on the footpath.
  814. Pink sunrise reflected in frozen puddles.
  815. Only slipping once on the ice.
  816. Hockey stick, violin and a shoebox house careless on a bedroom floor – instruments of an active child’s living.
  817. New coffee mug with a message I needed on it.
  818. Some quiet time to ponder and read the Bible.
  819. A potential new opportunity.
  820. Renewed hope.
  821. Disappointment leading to re-evaluation.
  822. Morning bustle of the people I love most around me.
  823. Slowing my mind and doing one thing at a time.
  824. Watching home movies from 5 years ago.
  825. The marvel of an e-reader, an entire library in my pocket!
  826. My wife turning our partly renovated cottage into a cosy home.
  827. Putting a ‘Thomas’ puzzle back together for a wee boy who is sad at brokenness.
  828. Our Queen remaining honourable for 60 years.
  829. Family picnic on a glorious sunny winter afternoon.
  830. A handful of wild flowers from mum.
  831. Wild passionfruit.
  832. Squeaky swings.
  833. My new reading glasses.
  834. John Kirwin being knighted
  835. A frown from my wife reminding me I am being lazy.
  836. Warming frozen fingers by the fire.
  837. Water to wash away my physical dirt and the blood of Christ to wash away my sin.
  838. My wise and insightful wife.
  839. Jesus, the overseer of my soul (1 Peter 2:25).
  840. N. coming to cuddle my in bed and rubbing my eyes.
  841. The smell of rich, fresh, fair trade coffee.
  842. Overcoming my fear of being incompetent and finally installing the bathroom heater.
  843. Not electrocuting myself.
  844. Viktor Frankl’s reminder that each life has meaning.
  845. Sermon coming together well despite late night preparation.
  846. A favourite woollen jersey.
  847. The smell of a pine forest.
  848. Lungs full of cool, clean, fresh air.
  849. This measure of suffering today.
  850. An hour of peacefulness outside to simply be.
  851. Memories of childhood melancholy – I have been through this before.
  852. Realizing that melancholy is part of who I am.
  853. No more money – I must be content with less.
  854. The child heart remains in me.
  855. H. saving my life again.
  856. Frost crystals on a sunlit rock.
  857. Job application in just in time.
  858. Winter days slowly lengthening.
  859. Irises blazing midwinter colour.
  860. Surprising myself with the reflexes to catch a jar before it smashed on the floor.
  861. Dozing in the sunshine.
  862. Sunlight reflecting across the sea.
  863. Being less then 1 metre from an adult fur seal.
  864. Coffee overlooking the Moeraki boulders.
  865. Kids feeding deer.
  866. Enormous ice creams.
  867. Gorgeous weather.
  868. Relaxing in the natural beauty of Moeraki.
  869. Slowing life down to walking pace.
  870. Reading Hemingway’s ‘The Old Man and The Sea’ in an evening while on holiday in a fishing village by the sea.
  871. Fur seal pups.
  872. Amazing book about battling suicide.
  873. Very silly, giggly girls at bedtime.
  874. Protection of our intrepid little boy near sea cliffs today.
  875. An enormous full moon setting over the city on a cool morning.
  876. A job interview.
  877. Happy cousins playing together.
  878. Three-year-old son ‘reading’ the dictionary.
  879. Encouragement from God that He is working out a plan and purpose for my life.
  880. A quiet cup of tea with my wife after she finished work.
  881. The quiet delight of the art gallery.
  882. Seeing the famous portrait of Captain James Cook in real life, up close.
  883. A happy little boy playing with toy animals.
  884. One whole week in the ‘green zone’.
  885. Physiotherapy students helping H.
  886. Reading through ‘One Thousand Gifts’ again.
  887. My son’s giggles when tickled
  888. Reading a good book in front of the fire on a wet drizzly day
  889. Caring and competent school teachers for H.
  890. Not feeling depressed for 2 whole weeks.
  891. Loan money going through.
  892. Paying most of one credit card off.
  893. Throwing the offending card in the fire.
  894. The jumpy wee dog we brought on the spur of the moment 8 years ago.
  895. A daughter’s concern for her upset sibling when we buried Rata.
  896. Lunch with folks from church at the Plaza Cafe.
  897. Hearing rain on the roof, knowing the leaks are fixed.
  898. Hannah holding my hand on a family walk.
  899. A 3-year-old’s legs running flat out down the Ross Creek track.
  900. Family trip to the library on a dismal wet day.
  901. Reading a book set in the places where I grew up.
  902. We got the roof fixed before all this rain arrived!
  903. Noticing how bad weather, tiredness and being sick makes me grumpy and bad tempered with the kids.
  904. A new puppy .
  905. Folding up laundry without hurry or fuss.
  906. Pen on paper
  907. Reading and learning.
  908. Antibiotic’s for Iona’s tonsilitis.
  909. A wonderful family doctor.
  910. Night-time vista of harbour lights on my way to work.
  911. The idiosyncrasies of N. teaching me about myself.
  912. Feeling grounded and no longer in an emotional pit of despair.
  913. Making some progress building the back fence.
  914. Adriana’s birthday.
  915. Seeing Colin before he goes on ice for a year.
  916. Mum & Dad seem happier and more relaxed.
  917. Mike & Michelle wanting to pastor our church.
  918. Enjoying my children.
  919. Missing Rata.
  920. Spring!
  921. Lush green spring hills.
  922. Bus taking me into town.
  923. Elderflower cordial.
  924. Yummy yoghurt.
  925. Fresh, clean water at the turn of a tap.
  926. The kind lady who gave me a ride into town after I missed my bus and was going to be late for work.
  927. A happy puppy running free.
  928. Seeing a budget advisor.
  929. A rainbow reminding me of God’s promises.
  930. Taking the opportunity to walk the dogs and collect pine cones instead of blobbing at the computer.
  931. Jim waiting for me so I didn’t miss the bus again.
  932. A friend who is not afraid to thrash out thorny theological questions
  933. Honey on toast.
  934. Free parking from a temperamental parking meter
  935. Hannah skipping along a gravel road singing, “it’s the best day ever”.
  936. Fledgeling bird found on the side of a road. Trembling vulnerability lifted out of danger.
  937. Smelling roses as I read the Bible.
  938. A convicting conversation today about prayer
  939. Training Fern with dog buiscits
  940. Gardening; slowing down, being outside, interacting with growing things (even the weeds!)
  941. A full day of work without a headache.
  942. Heather cooking a delicious dinner.
  943. Warm little feet pressing into the small of my back.
  944. LS taking calls when my voice failed me.
  945. Starting the final bit of painting on the house extension.
  946. Delicious dinner with friends.
  947. Heather’s hard work to bless Hannah on her birthday.
  948. A productive day painting the house.
  949. Scent of lilacs as I walk to work.
  950. Evening shadows
  951. Fern chasing rabbits
  952. Last day of work for two weeks
  953. Beautiful lake and mountains
  954. Being back in Central Otago
  955. Nathanael laughing hilariously at my belly button.
  956. Enjoying our beautiful countryside with my kids.
  957. A long walk with Heather.
  958. A long conversation with Dad.
  959. A safe drive home.
  960. Sleeping in my own bed.
  961. Heather and kids are OK after the car went off the road.
  962. Finding ways to add routine to my erratic schedule.
  963. Building consent approved finally.
  964. Seeing Hannah happily settled on her first day back at school for this year.
  965. Deleting a time-wasting game off my computer (again!).
  966. New car.
  967. Insurance!
  968. Hot toast with butter and honey and a good cup of coffee.
  969. My wee boy turning 4.
  970. A fascinating walk through the ecosanctuary
  971. Great neighbours.
  972. A long chat with a good friend.
  973. A boss willing to give second chances.
  974. Fern sniffing around chasing a lizard.
  975. Rain after a long, dry summer.
  976. Jim waiting for me to catch the bus.
  977. Time in the middle of the day to take Fern for a walk.
  978. Crickets chirping.
  979. A fine afternoon for walking.
  980. Staying focused at work.
  981. My kids, I like being their dad.
  982. The fresh smell of a damp forest.
  983. The joy of being around a happy dog.
  984. Walking home eating an ice cream on a sunny day.
  985. That it is a warm day when the electricity cut out.
  986. Just putting one foot in front of the other.
  987. A warm house and blankets for my children’s beds.
  988. Church family who care enough to ask probing questions.
  • New flower buds on the kowhai tree {1,000}

holy experience

[Page last updated Nov 2012]

 

We will remember them

The grandfather I loved was a peaceful man living a quiet life. It is hard to comprehend that as the young man in the photo above he fought terrible battles on the other side of the world to stop an evil that still horrifies us 66 years later.

This is my Grandfather as a young man. I knew him as ‘Grandad’, my Mum called him ‘Dad’ and his friends called him Ron. He had a lot of friends.
To my shame I don’t know very much about my Grandad as a soldier, he was very young when he enlisted in the army at the start of World War II, so young he had to lie about his age. I know he fought in North Africa, Egypt, El Alamein, and Italy.

He told me a little about the battle for Monte Cassino, how they got cut off from retreating until an American destroyer almost dropped a shell right on top of his patrol, taking out the German troops so the Kiwis ‘ran like hell’ to escape.

He described how they slept leaning against the wheels of trucks because they didn’t have a chance to make camp.

But what I remember most about Grandad is his smile, his enjoyment of life and his generosity. Packing eight grandchildren into his little red car to take us ice skating. He loved gardening, and us kids loved playing in his garden. He always seemed happy to see us, and always had a loyal dog following him around.

The grandfather I loved was a peaceful man living a quiet life. It is hard to comprehend that as the young man in the photo above he fought terrible battles on the other side of the world to stop an evil that still horrifies us 66 years later.

As our nation remembers all who served our country this ANZAC day, I think of my Granddad who survived it all and lived to fill us all with love and joy. He probably never thought he would survive, let alone become a grandfather, but I’m so very thankful he did.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

(From “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon.)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, (Philippians 1:3-4 ESV)

He is risen

Cross

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”(Luke 24:1-7 ESV)

He has risen!

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
(Romans 8:11 ESV)

I also live because Jesus lives!

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Quietness and trust

God waits for me to draw aside from the world and its distractions in order to seek Him, then He speaks to my soul.

a fawn lying in grass looking at camera

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
(Isaiah 30:15 ESV)

With each year that passes I become more aware of how little really matters. It is also evident how little what really matters gets valued, and how prized is that which doesn’t matter.

While God has the ability to easily get my attention by overwhelming all the other clamour in my life, He chooses not to. He waits for me to draw aside from the world and its distractions in order to seek Him, then He speaks to my soul.


Other posts related to this topic:

Image of fawn in grass: iStockphoto

Don’t be radical, be faithful

Do you love Jesus?
Really?

Do you love him enough to die for him?

Where is the evidence?

We are hearing and reading plenty of calls for ‘radical’ commitment to Christ these days, it seems to be a bit of a trendy stance to take. However, I’m not sure that Jesus actually wants us to be radical, certainly not in the sense of being ‘extreme’ (another cool way to describe oneself). When Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” he did not tell him to do something radical, he told Peter to serve him faithfully (John 21:15).

True, Jesus did tell Peter he would lay down his life, and he had already left everything he had in order to follow Jesus, in fact Peter had no hesitation in leaving his job to follow Jesus (John 21:18-19,  Mark 10:28-29,  Mark 1:16-18). In current terminology this would be labeled as a radical commitment. But consider what Jesus was actually demanding from Peter – follow Me, to the exclusion of all else. Serve My people, care for them in My name. Jesus called Peter to be with him and to lead others on the same path. A path of weakness and failure (John 13:37-38), a path of obedience (John 14:15). Have a read of Peter’s epistles – he consistently exhorts us to be faithful and obedient, for example:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 ESV)

We tend to like the idea of being able to summon up the willpower, emotional energy and faith to make a radical decision which will place us on a course of unusual devotion and service for Christ. In my experience the choices with guaranteed ongoing consequences are generally not good ones.

The idea behind ‘Radical Christianity’ is basically a return to the roots of what Christianity is all about. However, the way the word ‘radical’ is bandied around these days it is effectively used as a synonym for ‘extreme’. I can understand the appeal of calling people to a ‘radical commitment’ to Christ or ‘radical discipleship’, but in the end it becomes yet another meaningless phrase that sounds impressive while having no content.

In the real world of living as a Christian in our homes, workplaces and communities, extremism is not going to get us very far. There is an attractiveness to the idea of making a single decision that will have flow-on consequences of increased faithfulness to Christ in all areas of my life. Unfortunately discipleship doesn’t work that way. From what I’ve seen the decisions which have unavoidable flow-on consequences are generally stupid, selfish ones and the flow-on effects are all destructive (eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much, saying too much, lusting too much, driving too fast… ).

So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
(1 Corinthians 7:24 ESV)

Paul wanted to draw the Corinthians’ attention away from their circumstances and emphasize that the full Christian life could be lived anywhere by anyone if lived in deep communion with God. Do we really believe that? Really?
Redefining Radical (Part 2)
What ever happened to a theology of calling and vocation? by Skye Jethani

The path to great devotion and service to Christ is one of small steps repeated often, it is narrow and hard (Matthew 23:11-12). Learning obedience and faithfulness occurs in the small mundane details of killing selfishness, pride, coveting and a myriad of other sins. The greatest in the kingdom of God is the servant, not the most radical (Matthew 23:11-12). Someone who is great in the eyes of God will be overlooked by others.

The evidence of my love for Christ is seen in the little, automatic actions, thoughts, words and choices that I make every day. These mundane details display, or betray, any love I claim to have for Jesus

…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
(1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV)

Voice your complaint – God can handle it

How do you thank God when life sucks? We are commanded to give thanks, always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20) – how is this possible if your lot in life is lousy?

I know enough people who are having a real tough time in life to be under no illusions that being a Christian exempts anyone from enduring hard times. The situations these people are experiencing are not their own fault or due to a lack of faith. Frankly it looks very much as though God has given some folks a real bum deal.

That seems to be how Job felt too – he believed God is good, he firmly held that it is much better to be righteous than wicked, yet there was no denying his suffering. Job was more honest than his friends, he didn’t try to protect God from the truth – really bad things do happen to good people and there is no logic to it.

I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
(Job 10:1 ESV)

Job knew something wasn’t right and he grew weary of holding it in, he vented, he shocked his friends. His friends snapped back with accusations, defending their doctrine, standing up for God.

Yet someone was listening to all this. Have you ever considered that someone was listening to these conversations and faithfully reported or wrote what was said? This is what I can do for my friends also, listen and take their complaints to God.

Voice your complaint – God can handle it

caucasian man praying with hands over his face

How do you thank God when life sucks? We are commanded to give thanks, always and for everything (Ephesians 5:20) – how is this possible if your lot in life is lousy?
I know enough people who are having a real tough time in life to be under no illusions that being a Christian exempts anyone from enduring hard times. The situations these people are experiencing are not their own fault or due to a lack of faith. Frankly it looks very much as though God has given some folks a real bum deal.

That seems to be how Job felt too – he believed God is good, he firmly held that it is much better to be righteous than wicked, yet there was no denying his suffering. Job was more honest than his friends, he didn’t try to protect God from the truth – really bad things do happen to good people and there is no logic to it.

I loathe my life;
I will give free utterance to my complaint;
I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
(Job 10:1 ESV)

Job knew something wasn’t right and he grew weary of holding it in, he vented, he shocked his friends. His friends snapped back with accusations, defending their doctrine, standing up for God.

Yet someone was listening to all this. Have you ever considered that someone was listening to these conversations and faithfully reported or wrote what was said? This is what I can do for my friends also, listen and take their complaints to God.


Gifts I am noticing (#341 – #347):

341) Honest words telling of a spouse who disdains your worship. I cannot change your situation, but I am praying for you.
342) Your endless sleep deprivation. I am praying and trying to help where I can.
343) Your heartbreak and fears for the future in the disarray caused by an unfaithful husband. I am angry too, I don’t know what to pray even, but keep asking God to comfort you.
344) Shortened work hours, rising living costs and healthcare bills causing anxiety. Praying for you both.
345) Unending headaches and stress. I cannot see why you must endure this but Jesus is walking with you and I’m asking Him to give you comfort in your endurance.
346) Depression casting shadows across your soul. Asking our Father to be your light, comfort and hope.
347) Past abuse that has generated hardships beyond my knowing. I see you as you are today and there is grace at work. Praying for continuing grace, comfort and peace.

Useful reading (some of what I read in thinking about how to write this post):

Other posts related to this topic:

Image of man praying: iStockphoto

Netted recently, April 16

Burmese New Year celebrations - The Water Festival
Burmese New Year celebrations - The Water Festival
Netted recently (and not so recently):
  • I Hate Hell is a sobering reminder from Tim Challies of what most of us choose to forget.
  • What Really Matters Most: How did you live your life today? What’s your plan for tomorrow? Are you neglecting people for the sake of “more important things”? Well worth taking the time to read this post. And if you are a Dad and feel like you don’t have time to read a long post then you need to read it!
  • People in Burma believe that pouring water over each other washes away bad luck from recent years and will bring  good luck for the year to come. See pictures of New Year festivities in Rangoon. Burmese New Year celebrations were on 13, 14 and 15 April this year.
  • Religious Conversion Worst Form of ‘Intolerance,’ Bhutan PM Says: I find this article challenging –

    The first premise [of seeking conversion] is that you believe that your religion is the right religion, and the religion of the convertee is wrong – what he believes in is wrong, what he practices is wrong, that your religion is superior and that you have this responsibility to promote your way of life, your way of thinking, your way of worship,” Thinley said. “It’s the worst form of intolerance. And it divides families and societies.”

    I have to agree with him in this statement, this is exactly what Christianity claims, and it is by nature an evangelistic faith, Christ commands us to make disciples and he said himself that he came to divide homes ( Matthew 10:34-39).  Yet I also agree that many of the aggressive means used by some Christians (not just oddball sects) are pushing the boundaries and verge on using fear or bribery to gain converts. This challenges me to ponder what Christian conversion really means and what role the evangelist should be playing; we cannot be be completely passive or no gospel is preached, yet if too aggressive the role of faith and the Holy Spirit in ‘conversion’ can come into doubt.

Other posts related to this topic:

Psalm 40


Sermon delivered Sunday 3 April 2011 at Roslyn Baptist Church


Psalm 40 can be viewed as a multi-layered masterpiece or a stained glass window in which each layer is a work of art in itself but together they carry far greater meaning. In this psalm I see two layers of truth overlaid with a layer of human frailty.

The first layer is the words of David, his situation, his thanksgiving and his prayer.  Yet there are elements in the psalm which don’t really fit if all we consider is the man, David son of Jesse. Even as David king of Israel, verse 7 is a bit odd:

Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
(Psalm 40:7 ESV)

The next layer of the psalm is prophecy, speaking of Christ the son of David. In the case of Jesus, it is clear that he knew himself to be the One spoken of in scripture (Luke 4:17-21, Luke 24:44-45). The New Testament confirms that Christ is the subject of this psalm in  Hebrews 10:5-10.

Then we reach a layer of ordinary Christians such as you and I, trusting in Christ and seeing our own experiences reflected in the words of David. This is how I come to Psalm 40, from the muck of the world, a sinner myself, attempting to live a sanctified life. I am surrounded by  sinners – some of whom would like to push me back down into the mire. Although we tend to approach the psalm from the perspective of how it relates to where we are at today, we need to see the other two layers in order for it to speak meaningfully.

David’s situation

Nobody knows what historical situation David was in when he wrote Psalm 40. Keep in mind that not every event of his life is documented in the Bible – it is unwise to force each Davidic psalm into a specific biblical situation. However, there are some historical events which do appear to have some influence:

  • David would have been well aware of the events of 1 Samuel 13 and 1 Samuel 15, along with Samuel’s comment which is recorded in 1 Samuel 15:22-23.
  • He surely also had ingrained in his heart the words of Deuteronomy 17:18-19.
  • David must have also known of God’s word to Samuel when he was annointed king (1 Samuel 16:7).
  • Then there is Samuel’s words to Saul (1 Samuel 13:14)
  • The ‘new song’ of  Psalm 40:3 echoes the new song of Moses after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-2).

Outward obedience  covering inward rebellion is rejected by David, he delights to do God’s will and joyfully tells of God’s deliverance from troubles. He is confident of God’s mercy toward him.

But David is only a man, a sinful man. He may love to obey God but does not always have the ability to follow through. As one who delights in the law of God and walking in obedience he is acutely aware of how he fails to do so. David names sin for the evil it is, recognizing that his sins pile up beyond number.

While he is crushed by the burden of sin, David’s enemies plot his fall. He knows God is merciful but asks Him to judge his enemies.

As the psalm began- with expectant waiting – so too it finishes. Confident in God’s deliverance, waiting yet for it to arrive.

Jesus in Psalm 40

Viewing this as a song of David  about expectantly trusting in God for deliverance is richly rewarding. However, we cannot ignore the dissonance of verses 6-8 in the mouth of David, especially verse 7:

Then I said, “Behold, I have come;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
(Psalm 40:7-8 ESV)

If we scroll forward through the Old Testament we see clearly that:

  • God was not at all impressed with the sacrifices and offerings of the Israelites coming from hearts that were distant from Him (Isaiah 1:13 and Isaiah 1:16-17).
  • A new covenant is coming in which God will remove the stony hearts and replace them with hearts inclined to do His will (Ezekiel 11:19-20).
  • God would do this through His Servant who opened his ear to God and was obedient, giving his back to those who strike and not hiding his face from disgrace and spitting.

From our vantage point we can see that Jesus fits the picture of one who was predicted in the scriptures, delighted to do God’s will (John 4:34) and achieved in full what animal sacrifices could only symbolise – the cleansing of sin and guilt from human hearts.

And then we have the glory of Hebrews 10, where we have it made plain that the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sins, they were a graphic reminder of God’s holiness and human sinfulness but to actually take away sin a better sacrifice is necessary (Hebrews 10:1-4). It then explicitly quotes verses 6-8 of Psalm 40 as being fulfilled in Jesus.

So we can certainly read Psalm 40 as applying to Jesus and obviously he is the perfection of what David spoke. He waited with perfect patience, as a man he needed God to bend down to hear his cry, as we do. Christ’s pit of destruction was infinitely more horrifying than David’s, yet he is now seated at the right hand of God. Saying that many will see and fear and put their trust in God as a result of the deliverance of Jesus from the pit seems something of an understatement.

Psalm 40:4 reminds me of the temptation of Jesus be Satan which he resisted perfectly (Luke 4:1-13). The Jesus himself multiplied the wonderful deeds of God and manifested God’s thoughts towards us. He did proclaim God’s deeds and tell of them.

Psalm 40:6 looks different:

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted,
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.
(Psalm 40:6 ESV)

Than in Hebrews 10:15

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
(Hebrews 10:5 ESV)

The quotation in Hebrews is from the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament. One proposed explanation of this difference is that through ears being opened the whole person is prepared to do the will of God and perhaps this interpretation influenced the  ancient translators.

When we look at  Psalm 40:9-10, the telling of the glad news began with Jesus and continues to this day (and beyond) through his Church. We are part of the great congregation who have been told of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain
your mercy from me;
your steadfast love and your faithfulness will
ever preserve me!
For evils have encompassed me
beyond number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
and I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
(Psalm 40:11-12 ESV)

In verses 11-12 we encounter statements that do not appear to fully apply to Jesus – God did withhold mercy from Jesus on the cross, because of this we know that His mercy has not been withheld from us. Jesus had no sin, so he could not say “my iniquities have overtaken me“. However, our sins were totally placed upon him and so on the cross it indeed became his sin, Jesus was killed for sin that he owned and accepted as his own. Yet these were sins I committed (2 Corinthians 5:21, Isaiah 53:6). Jesus has taken full ownership of all my sins and has borne the wrath and fury of God for it.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
(Psalm 40:13 ESV)

As David pleaded with God to hurry and save him, so Jesus on the cross cried out to God and committed his spirit into God’s hands (Luke 23:46).

Let those be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”
(Psalm 40:14-15 ESV)

The fulfillment of verses 14 and 15 is astonishing: the shame and dishonour of those who condemned and crucified Jesus has been magnified with each generation for the last 2,000 years!

But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God!
(Psalm 40:16-17 ESV)

Jesus became the very way for us to seek God, because of his obedience we do say, “great is the Lord!”

Now read through Psalm 40 yourself, consider yourself and your own situation with the depth of what this psalm contains as the foundation under it.


Image of stained glass window: iStockphoto