“I find Jesus!”

biblescroll

Today Heidi and I were sitting on the couch together. We were enjoying some mostly quiet reading time. I sat with my Bible, a notepad and a pen. Heidi sat with her little Bible, a couple of library books and some crayons. After making sure she had stopped drawing in the library books (again) we actually enjoyed a few minutes of sitting quietly and reading together. It was quite lovely. As her attention span waned I began thinking of a few things she could do to be a little more entertained.

“Why don’t you try and find Jesus? Where is he?” I said, as she sat with her picture Bible. And so she sat, looking at the pages of her Bible, where most of the very cartoony characters looked quite similar. “I find Jesus!” she yelled, as she looked at the story of Moses. “Here’s Jesus!” she said, pointing at Noah. And so on it went. Just about every page had a man with a brown beard in it, and so, each page had the required exclamation. I laughed a little and went along with it. ‘Yes, he looks like Jesus, doesn’t he?” I replied just a few times.

And then I stopped and thought. I had just been reading through the first couple of chapters of Romans. In Paul’s introduction he writes,

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand though his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord”. (NIV Rom 1:1-4)

The meta-narrative of Salvation throughout the Bible comes to a climax in the gospels where Jesus is finally revealed as the Son of God, and the final part of God’s plan for the salvation of his people. The Old Testament stories, the well known ones, the obscure moments, and the somewhat dry parts – they are all there to direct us to Christ, whether obvious or not. To illuminate our desperate need for Him, and His absolute ability to meet our needs powerfully and more wonderfully than we could have ever imagined.

Jesus is on each page of the Bible. When we hear of Noah and the Ark, we can see Noah’s obedience to God and follow his example. But we can also see God’s desire for righteousness, and for his people. When we read of Moses and the Israelites in Exodus, we can see the story of a God who brings deliverance to his people. When we read of Jonah finally obeying God and heading to Nineveh, we can see God’s compassion and patience – both towards Nineveh and Jonah. And so on it goes. Each character, page, moment of the Scripture is leading us toward Christ.

When we meet the Jesus in the gospels, we also meet righteousness. We find deliverance. We experience God’s compassion and learn of His patience towards us. So it seemed quite fitting today for Heidi to point to each page of her little picture Bible and say, “I find Jesus!”  Because He is there.

A Timely Reminder

This morning Paul had a friend come over, like he does each Tuesday morning, to chat, read the Bible and pray together. I was in bed and then pottering around the house as they met. At one point I overheard Paul’s mate Blair say something like, “No one has said to me, ‘Remember what Jesus has done for for you!'” And by that simple sentence I was struck.

Remember what Jesus has done for you’.

Don’t forget the most important thing! In a bid to be better Christians, better people, we often are addressing one issue or another, learning about something we can or should be doing, and maybe reading a few different articles on areas we want to work on. We must remember that being a Christian isn’t about moving upwards toward heaven on our own self-help ladder. ‘The nicer you are, the higher you are!’ Should not be a slogan that represents who we are. We must indeed remember that it is Jesus Christ himself who has done more for us than we could ever do for ourselves.

Romans 3:22-24 says,

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

It is only because of Christ that we are able to come before God with a righteousness that we never had before. I can’t read books by even the best evangelical theologians and be made right. Even reading the Bible doesn’t change my status before God, although the Word is powerful to change and convict. It is actually Jesus who changes my life. And I need to be reminded of this much more than I am.

Doubts Are Irritatingly Persistent

I have doubts that rear their ugly heads every now and then. The main one for me is not a doubt so much about who God is, but that He is real at all. Can this be real? Can it all be true? What if I’m wrong? But I find that these doubts come more frequently when I have not been looking to Jesus, and remembering what he has done.

Encourage One Another

We must exhort one another with the truth. I know my conversations at church, or with Christian friends can be full of catching up on the past week, life, kids, upcoming church events, you name it! But meaning, and a desire to share, encourage and value the truth together is often absent. I can’t remember when I last said to someone, But remember what Jesus has done for you’.

When we look to Christ, more often than not, perspectives on other things become clearer. Suddenly it doesn’t matter so much that my life isn’t perfect, or that things are not always easy. Because eternal things are the things that matter the most. And Christ himself has sorted that out for me.

And so I want to encourage you to simply remember what Christ has done for you. And perhaps ask a friend to do the same. And may we all thank and praise Christ as we dwell on the magnitude of his service, sacrifice and love to us.

Spending Time with the Keeper of Time

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” Psalm 19:14.

A good friend of mine (Martina) and I catch up each fortnight. We catch up while her son goes to Kinder, so that our girls can play together. We alternate whose house we go to, and while we have only done it a couple of times, it seems like it might just be one of those routines that sticks pretty well. We enjoy it, the girls enjoy it, and on the good days, it gives us a chance to connect on a deeper level. As we caught up last time, catching snippets of conversation amongst the distractions of two young babies and two busy toddlers, we chatted about one of the biggest challenges of being mums of young children: With so many demands on our time, how do we manage to spend time with God?

As many of you will know, parenting young children (we currently have a 4 month old and 23 month old) can be exciting, rewarding and fun. But it is, by its very nature, challenging, tiring and relentless. Tonight our 2 have played tag – one slept happily while the other was difficult. Then they switched. We have just had them both awake. One has now settled and the other still can’t get off to sleep. There is no ‘downtime’ in our household at the moment. And when we get it, we are so tired all we can manage is to get to bed before someone else wakes up. So when it comes to the notion of wanting to spend time soaking in the Word, communicating in prayer and reflecting on what Christ has done for us, where (oh where!) can we fit God in?

A common, albeit very kind, word of advice is often, “Don’t worry! You’re a young mum with 2 young kids – just do what you can”. And there is merit to this comment. We live under grace. I don’t need to earn God’s favour by filling a certain quota of prayers, or reading a certain number of pages in my Bible each day. My righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 4:21-26) not through impressing God with my diligence. But at the same time I have wondered – if I am not spending time with God now, when I truly and sometimes very desperately need Him, when will I?

The daily struggle goes beyond simple desire though. If I have 30 minutes, maybe a whole hour that both of the girls are sleeping at the same time during the day, I have to make some choices. Do I catch up on some sleep because I was up at 4am with Pippa? Do I mop the floors because we are toilet training Heidi? Do I try and organise a catch up with a friend? And so the list goes on.

As Martina and I caught up that day we ended up talking about Psalm 19. We didn’t read it together as the girls were getting a bit rowdy, but later I snatched a moment to take a look. Verse 14 says, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer”. And I thought to myself, “How can the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to God if I don’t know what He wants me to say and how He wants me to speak? And how can my heart please God if I don’t spend time with Him, meditating on both Scripture and on who the Lord is?” Despite the circumstances of my life, these questions cannot change. This is what I have been by convicted by.

Somewhere in my day, I must make time for God. And I can. The times when I’m breastfeeding Pippa – I can put down Facebook on the iPhone and read the Bible. As I sit down for lunch not long after the girls (hopefully) go to sleep at the same time, I can spend some time in prayer. It is about me making a choice. A choice I don’t always feel like doing, but a choice that represents my priorities and my passions in life. If I spend more time on Pinterest looking for activities to keep Heidi occupied with, or ideas for something (anything!) than I do with God, what does that say about the things that I value in life? If God is really my number one passion in life, maybe my time should represent that a little more?

It has not been easy, and I still have not made the right choice every day. In fact, with health issues, family issues, toilet training and this un-ending, hooooottttttt weather in Melbourne at the moment (and a baby who doesn’t like the heat at all), I often have literally not had a moment to spare in the day. But, I am working hard to change some habits and shift some mentalities. I want to know God more, to love Him, and to spend time with Him. James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (Thanks Colin Buchanan) and I so desperately want that. I’m not going to beat myself up if it doesn’t happen. But I am going to make more of the opportunities that come up in the day, to snatch some quiet time with God. Because He is worth it.

How do you find time for the important things in life? What advice do you have to young parents regarding spending time with God? How does anyone survive having young kids in the heat???

Introducing Key Characters To My Life Story

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Hi. I’m Mel. Short for Melissa – just so you know. I’d love to introduce myself to you, and also to the three people in my life who mean the very most to me. This is a photo of us taken a few weeks ago at a friend’s wedding. It is very possible that they will be mentioned here frequently, and so I feel it is only appropriate that I give them a fair and reasonable introduction. Hopefully this will give you a realistic representation of them, as opposed to my possibly slightly biased stories as they come up.

1. Paul

Also Known As: PDaddy. Handsome Hubby. BFF. The man I love and am so glad to have married.

Three words that I think describe him:
Passionate. Determined. Serving.

Three words he uses for himself (with some persuasion):
Passionate. Faithful. Generous.

He spends his time studying Theology – on his way to a Masters of Divinity. He is also known for tickling and dancing with his two little girls, and passionately discussing the in’s and out’s of the Christian faith (and life) with me.

2. Heidi Abigail 

Also Known As: The Tornado. Little Munchkin. Little J. Our Free Spirit.

Three words to describe her:
Energetic. Social. Determined.

Three words/phrases she says a lot:
Awake! Dinner. Baby sister.

She spends lots of her time dancing and spinning. Her favourite activities are drawing, going to a local farm, swinging on swings, and saying “Amen” whenever she wants Paul and I to stop talking. She is an absolute delight, and just a little bit of a Daddy’s girl.

3. Pippa Violet

Also Known As: Pippety Pop. Our Little Coconut. Sensitive Soul. Mohawk.

Three words to describe her:
Sensitive. Smiley. Content.

Three things she does a lot:
Smiles. Loud burps. Dribbles.

As a four month old baby Pippa doesn’t do a lot. Sleeping, feeding, smiling, watching her big sister and most of all brining joy to those around her. This little one needs lots of cuddles and reassurance, but when she has that she is a very content little girl. She warms many-a-heart with her generous smiles.

4. Me

Also Known As: Melly. Melissa. Mummy. Mel. Melf.

Three words to describe myself:
I wanted to do this, but felt a bit pretentious – so I will leave it for you readers to work out over time. Why is it so hard to do for yourself? I think it is one of those Australian cultural things where you should never say anything good about yourself! Hard to break out of it.

Ways I spend my time (too hard to limit myself to three!):
I spend my time caring for our beautiful girls: changing nappies, breastfeeding, menu planning, grocery shopping, cleaning, trying desperately to think of new ways to entertain our ever-changing toddler, running, studying the Bible, going on date nights with Paul, and catching up with friends. It is a lot easier to write down what I do as opposed to what I am good at.

Thank you

For taking the time to get to know me and my family. I would love to know some more about you.

Can you describe yourself in three words? Do you think that it’s an Aussie thing to not be able to say, “I’m great at……”? And do you have pet names for your children/spouse/family members?

Here’s to getting to know you all better as we go on this blogging journey together.