Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Lord You are worthy

Lord You are worthy
Worthy of glory
Glory and honour
Power and might
Lord we adore You
Bow down before You
Kneel in Your Presence
Father of lights

Though we run from a love that pursues us
He is waiting with arms open wide
Seek His grace, He will never refuse us
See the wounds in His hands and His side

Healing the broken
Feeding the empty
Setting the captives
Free from their chains
When all is fallen
Forgotten and faded
Through every trial
His love remains

And His glory is filling the temple
Through His story revealed in His word
Every one that has breath, made to praise Him
All creation declares He is Lord

Heavenly Father
Blessed Redeemer
Great Holy Spirit
Threesome in One
For all eternity
Father of glory
Jesus our Saviour
Come, Spirit, Come. 

Copyright Josephine Collett 2012
(Sometimes when I write a poem it's more like song lyrics as I have a definite tune running through my mind simultaneously. If anyone wants to set this to music and use for worship, feel free to do so, provided I am acknowleged as the lyricist)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Hardness of Soft Things and the Softness of Hard Things

Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.  Isaiah 50:7

My face is soft, but it is facing toward heaven and cannot be turned. Can a woman have a face like flint? Yes.

It is difficult to be soft. One might say it is hard to be soft. 

And it is kind and loving to be strong. To resist. To stand. One might say it is soft to be hard.

Men are often strong on the exterior and gentle inside. Women can sometimes be gentlewomen with lives that reflect their inner depth and strength.

Jesus was the gentlest person imaginable. Yet He was the epitomy of strength. The Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah. The Creator of the universe, naked and nailed to a cross, risen and coming again leading the host of heaven on a white horse.

Softness and strength together. Within a person, a couple, a community. Making something special and good.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

He said "Will you?"- She said "Yes"

He took her to a beautiful place that was special to both of them. They sat together and talked about all the times that they'd shared together, all the happy and sad memories, the values that they treasured and the life they'd built together.
He told her all that she meant to him. Then unexpectedly, he knelt down upon one knee, something he'd never done before, and asked her if she would marry him.
She said yes!
He asked her to close her eyes.
And when he asked her to open them again, he was holding a little wooden box with a glowing diamond ring inside it.

What makes this story so special is that the man is my husband of 32years, who decided that because he had not actually proposed to me all those years ago, he would like me to have the experience of a proper, down-on-the -knee, proposal. He wanted to give me the diamond he would have liked to have given me all those years ago. And he wanted to express that his commitment to me made in December, 1979, is as real and eternal as when he first made it.

There's something very special about a Christian marriage. When God enters into a relationship, he changes the lives that are commited to Him. He makes something lasting and wonderful. I am so thankful that even though my husband and I were not committed Christians when we married, we have grown and developed our values together, we both know the Lord as our Saviour and Lord of our lives and marriage and that we have grown in maturity as Christians, as individuals and as a couple through God's grace. We are still learning, we make mistakes, but we are each committed to making our partner feel loved, respected and supported.

My husband and I are both children of marriages that lasted a lifetime. I pay enormous tribute to both our Mums and Dads for that legacy. I hope it is a legacy that I will pass forward to my children and possible future grandchildren.

Thank You, my Darling husband.

Thank You, heavenly Father.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Storm Bird

Cooee. Cooee,
In the still of the night, from the heart of the tree,
He sings his plaintive song, again and again,
Cooee, cooee,
A prayer for rain.
The moon behind
the palm tree shines its pattern on the blind
and tossed in fevered wakefulness
we will a breeze to damper the refrain,
Cooee, cooee, the storm bird sings for rain

Tomorrow the uneventful sun will arc
Its passage through another day, blue sky
From dawn to dusk, from dusty hill to dry
Creek bed, and
blaze its heat upon the swollen cane,
Until at eveningtime
We search the starry climes with sweated eye
Listening to the endless cry again
Cooee, cooee,
The storm bird sings for rain.

copyright Jo Collett 2003.

Birthday Party

On my birthday
My folks threw a party for me-
Cleaned the pool
Hung the decorations
Baked a special cake
Pity they never invited me along

They gave each other presents
on my birthday
I had a special gift for everyone
Expensive gift too
They didn't know
That I was there waiting

I heard my name at times
in the music playing
Saw my baby pictures
in some cards upon the wall
And everyone laughed and sang
and joked and ate
and said it was
a really great party

Oh well,
Same day next year
Maybe next year

Jo Collett 2012

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Christmas Poem

Wandering through the crowds of a department store
Strangers indifferently eye one another, impatiently
turning away, jostling together in an uneasy throng
Amid the lights and gaieties, a contrivance of choirs
And piped music plays the customary overtures
Stepping past an open doorway, a blast of heat reminds us
That the snowy winter-wonderland is air-conditioned,
Not the reality of Australian December
Something more sweaty and profound lies waiting
And this is comforting
For this is the Christmas gift of Mary,
She who carried her baby among the dusty crowds,
Knowing fear and rejection,
That they who in poverty pass beyond the tinsel
Seeking the blessings of the Christ child
In an unknowing world
Will be heirs of the Magi.

Two Rivers

One of my favourite passages in the Bible is found in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, chapter 47. The prophet is led by a guide who three times makes a specific measurement and leads him into water which is progressively ankle deep, knee deep and waist deep. A fourth time he measures and shows the man a river which is deep enough to swim in.

Like many biblical passages, there are many interpretations of this symbolism. Some writers focus on the progressive discovery of the deeper truths of God. Another interpretation I have read focuses on suffering and the surrender of self-control.

What the passage does demonstrate is that God’s ways are measured, directed and for our ultimate benefit. What I find interesting about this passage is that Ezekiel is shown the deep river but not plunged in up to his neck or over his head. He is gently taken back to the riverbank and his guide describes the river:

47:9 Every living creature which swarms where the river flows will live; there will be many fish, for these waters flow there. It will become fresh and everything will live where the river flows. 47:10 Fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to En-eglaim they will spread nets. They will catch many kinds of fish, like the fish of the Great Sea. 47:11 But its swamps and its marshes will not become fresh; they will remain salty. 47:12 On both sides of the river’s banks, every kind of tree will grow for food. Their leaves will not wither nor will their fruit fail, but they will bear fruit every month, because their water source flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

We are told at the beginning of the chapter that this river has its source from the altar in the temple. What a wonderful, joyful description of not only a beautiful landscape but also the living, cleansing, nourishing Spirit of God.

In the last chapters of Revelation, we are given a description of what the New Jerusalem will look like, when the great tribulation on earth has finished and Christ has returned to claim his bride. This description includes, in chapter 21, an angel with a golden rod measuring the city. In the final chapter of the Bible we are given the description of a river which is similar to that found in Ezekiel:

22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life – water as clear as crystal – pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 22:2 flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations.”

Again, we have the wonderfully rich imagery of a physically beautiful landscape and the symbolism of energy, health, cleansing and abundance. The passages positively teem with life. Again, the source of all this is our God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

How wonderful to know Him - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

How wonderful to experience life with Him every day. For He has come, not to condemn, but to release us into abundant life with Him.

Praise God.

Thank You

Thank You Father, for setting me free,

Thank You for beginning and ending

every day with me,

When things are going fine, I feel You smile,

When troubles brew I rest in You

Your arms around me all the while.

I pray that those I meet will me with You

and feel Your touch and hear Your voice

in everything I say and do.

My first thought when I waken in the dawning light,

My last one when I bid the stars goodnight,

My life’s dance to the tune of Your love song,

The One who knows and loves me all my life long.

Jo   Nov 12

(a little syncopated rhythm)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Golden Gals Dancing in my Garden

After a record 60 odd days without rain in Brisbane, we were blessed with a much-anticipated solid downpour last weekend and the landscape is turning green again. These dancing lady orchids in my garden erupted into flower almost overnight. From a small piece given to me by an old family friend almost twenty years ago, the plants have surrounded a tree trunk.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Trash and Treasure

Once a year there is a long lineup of expectant strangers who arrive early at our church, queuing up outside the gates, eagerly awaiting them to be opened. No, it’s not on Christmas Day, nor even Easter Sunday. The crowd gathers at 6.30am to be the first ones into the carpark for the annual church carboot sale.

Like anyone, I love a bargain. My book collection has been greatly enhanced by the volumes I’ve discovered when visiting charity shops, near and far. My longsuffering husband and kids are accustomed to spending time on holidays waiting for Mum to have a quick peek into stores that we pass along the journey.

It’s good to have hobbies and interests and things that help us to learn and develop our talents. It’s not so good to make things your god – to love them and spend all your time, effort and money in acquiring them, storing them, exhibiting them and disposing of them in order to make room for new ones. It’s not so good to use things as a symbol of your success or self-worth. Things only give us a false and temporary sense of importance, comfort or happiness. Things will never love us back in the way that we love them.

More and more, I wonder what we’re doing with our church sales. The people who line up to come to church at 6.30am – are they in danger of missing out on the greatest treasure they could ever own? Are they just a source of extra income for that new building or mission trip? Or are they in themselves people that we in the church should be praying for and witnessing to and reaching out to?

Could we have something to freely give the unchurched strangers walking through our church gates? How about prayer, company, pocket testaments or other gospel materials, compassion, friendship, refreshments and most of all, the knowlege of the greatest treasure any of us can ever have - that of being in relationship with God- our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ”  Philippians 3:8  

Monday, 5 November 2012

Acts : Warn, Urge, Console, Encourage.

In my private devotions at the moment, I'm reading through the book of Acts. No matter how familiar one is with bible chapters, there is always something new to ponder over every time one reads and studies a book. This is one of the joys of God's word - God and His ways and character are revealed more deeply and clearly with every reading.

The book of Acts has so much to offer the reader, for it describes the formation of the early churches after Christ's ascention to heaven and the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit given to Christ's followers at Pentecost (Acts chapter 2). This indwelling Holy Spirit enabled the early believers to be bold witnesses for Christ and heal and baptise in the name of Jesus Christ. We follow with excitement as the apostles establish churches in various cities and see many converts brought into the kingdom.

What was the early church charged to do? There was much teaching of the gospel. There was much prayer. There was communion. There was sharing and ministry to the needy.

We read in Acts chapter 16 of the conversion in Phillipi of a lady named Lydia, a dealer in purple fabrics. Paul and Silas, before departing from Phillipi, stay at this lady's house, ministering to the believers there. Verse 40 of the chapter tells us that they " warned and urged and consoled and encouraged them."

Acts chapter 20 begins with Paul about to leave the city of Ephesus . In verse one we are told that "Paul sent for the disciples and warned and consoled and urged and encouraged them, then he embraced them and told them farewell."   Yet again, in chapter 20, verse 2, as Paul is travelling through the districts of Asia on his way to Macedonia, we read " after he had gone through those districts and had warned and consoled and urged and encouraged the bretheren with much discourse, he came to Greece."

When we read those four words over and over again in connection with what was being done in the early church, we must  assume that these are important fundamentals for church life.

What can we glean from this today? We are to warn one another. Against what? Throughout the epistles Paul warns against false doctrine which distorts the gospel message and false teachers who will try to draw Christians to their own ways (Acts 20:30). It is still the task of Christians to be discerning when faced with the plethora of "Christian" information, leaders and teachers available today.

Paul also warns that there is a need for repentance and moving away from sinful ways, as God will judge this world through the return of Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:30,31). We are to be alert to the fact that we all face sinfullness  and to guard our own hearts and lives. We must also guide our brothers and sisters back to the narrow path if we are aware that they are struggling with temptations or sin; and I emphasize that this needs discernment, prayer and a loving approach.

There is no shortage of people to console within a church. It should be the one place more than any other where the hurting receive comfort and healing. We alone can offer not empty words, but the real promise of hope. Thank God for those in churches who are unafraid to come alongside others who are feeling the pain and isolation of divorce, illness, bereavement, retrenchment, adultery, pornography use, abuse and a multitude of other hurts.

We are to urge each other - again, to do what? In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus tells his disciples "“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Our time on this earth is really so short. There is a great need throughout the world for the gospel message, both in our own local communities and overseas. God has given us all talents to use for his work. How can you use your time, gifts, resources to serve others and bring them into the kingdom? Am I living for my own desires or to do God's will?

Finally, we are to encourage one another. Barnabas, who first appears in Acts chapter 4, is one of my favourite characters in the Bible, for his name means Son of Encouragement. What a joy encouragers are! In churches they are the ones who write loving little thank you notes or send get well cards or turn up with a pot of home made soup. They will find something positive about every single person in the congregation and make sure that person knows about it, not with glib flattery but with sincere and personal appreciation. When things are going well, the encourager will be buzzing and smiling. When things have fallen into a disappointing heap, the encourager is the one who will quietly come alongside, help to pick up the pieces and remind you that you are still loved and appreciated. Barnabas gave Mark his second chance. One encourager can revolutionise a whole church. 

May I encourage you this week to think about your church community if you belong to one, or if not, your workplace, family or other group; and find ways you can encourage, console, urge and warn those with whom you interact. May your work bring fruit for the kingdom. To God be the glory.