Monday, 6 June 2016

Which Service at Church? - Coffee & Conversation

Sometimes as Christians we only want to go to Worship Services but neglect the Prayer Meetings.

Sometimes as Christians we only want to go to Church on Sundays and forget about our fellow congregants the rest of the week.

Sometimes we want to do only bible studies by specific people instead of looking to God for what we should study and get the best help we can for that Bible passage or topic.

Sometimes we want to go to the fun things at church but never want to help in the church community work.

Sometimes we want to simply go to church events and not actually think of how we can help those and other events take place.

Sometimes we want to be seen to be doing things in the church service but we couldn't be bothered to help behind the scenes.

One Church service but not another?

Sometimes we are happy to have the Gospel preached but not willing to invite others in to church to hear that Good News.

Sometimes we want to know that our church is reaching out to tell others of the love of God and the rescue there is from our sin through Jesus but we neglect to do our part in God's work.

We pick and choose what we do to suit ourselves but what about the needs of the church and the people of the community around us?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 107

Each Sunday I choose a Psalm and write down some brief thoughts on it.

Today I'm looking at Psalm 107 

This Psalm falls into four parts:

V. 1-3
Thanksgiving to God

V. 4-32
We see a pattern repeated four times

  • The Ungodly Man
  • Turning to God & God's Intervention
  • Following God's Way
  • Goodness of God

V. 33-38
God's Good Hand on Nature
God's Good Hand on Man

V. 39-43
God's Justice & Kindness

This Psalm could be summed up simply by verse 1

Though people do not understand or see God's Hand in this world and in their lives that does not change the fact that He is always there in the world and in our lives 
and we would be wise to accept and acknowledge that.

Then we would understand his love and kindness and let Him change our lives.

Monday, 2 May 2016

We all love Free Stuff which is Good Stuff - Coffee & Conversation

Sometimes we don't realise how good something we have is.

That is exactly what happened to me a couple of years ago.

I went to the Churches Resources Exhibition in Belfast and came home with a plastic bag full of leaflets and other bits and pieces. A few days later I went through the contents of the bag quickly, mostly saying to myself that I would read through the leaflets properly when I had more time and only concentrate on the things I had particularly asked for or lifted from the stands right now.

Well the other leaflets just got put in a pile and a long time later I eventually decided to go through them mainly to throw them out because I was tired of seeing the pile on my desk in the study.

Imagine my surprise when I read about BES.    

Bible Educational Services

This is a free resource, yes FREE and I was missing out.

How was I missing out?

Because when I had been given the info. I had not properly realised what I was being given.

 At an event like this one you get so used to everything being expensive and everybody trying to persuade you that their product is the best that you can so easily click off and toss the name or idea into the back of your mind, and the leaflet into your bag to be forgotten about with lots of others.

I was annoyed at myself because I had not taken more of an interest at the time, and that I had been so unorganised that I hadn't sorted out and read everything much sooner after I got home.

Needless to say I spent some time on their website and downloaded some items which will help with the upcoming topics in our Sunday School Curriculum in the near future and some which I was able to make good use of almost immediately. Then in a few months time I will have to look into it again and see how we might benefit from it for the next year.

So go Check out the FREE Bible Lessons at BES

And let's tell others

We all love Free Stuff which is Good Stuff!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Right or Wrong Way? - A Dose of Encouragement 107

Previously I had written about Reading One Verse a Day and writing down my immediate thoughts on it and I posted them on facebook for a month.

This had stemmed from me trying to form a new habit where I would read a verse of the bible before I would read my emails each morning.

Well they say if you do something every day for a month you will form a new habit but I am proof that unfortunately

it is just not true.

It is easier to skim through emails while still half asleep than to sit and take in some Words of Scripture.

I'm being honest here.
I need to sip my coffee first thing in the morning and gradually come round because I am not a jump out of bed and be bustling with energy type of person.
I'm more the don't talk to me or ask me to make any decisions until I've had my coffee.

However since this experiment I have been reading a few verses at a time and seeing a benefit from that which I didn't really see before.  I am seeing that even one verse read (no matter how quickly) can leave a thought, idea, or even just one word that may simmer inside and come to fruition later.

I was always more the "read at least a proper paragraph" person because I always felt like everything should be read in context.

Now I'm more "yes I need my context to fully understand" but I also sometimes need a sentence or a word to jar into my subconscious and edge into my thoughts later in the day"

So I was coming to the realisation that there is no right or wrong way to read your bible.

 The most important thing was to read it.

So - What about those times when we come to a passage that we feel we know so well?

  • Do we skip it?
  • Do we skim over it?
    Photo from Graphic Stock
  • Do we read it and let our minds wander as we do so?
  • Do we read it quickly and think we know what is there and we have already got the relevance of it in the past?
  • Do we read it and accept that it is relevant for us TODAY not just because it is part of God's Word but because it is the part He has brought us to TODAY?

I love to read but as time goes by I find that I am skim reading more and more and later I cannot fully explain what I have been reading because as I skim read I am not getting the full details of the subject matter and also not taking the time to let the information register in my brain.

I need to get back to reading more slowly and reading every word.

So I was coming back to the realisation that there is a right and wrong way to read your bible.

 The wrong way is to skim through it.

Is there a Right Way or Wrong Way to Read your Bible?

God's Word is important for my everyday life and I want to encourage you that it is important for your everyday life as well.

Let's get back to actually reading it and absorbing it instead of skimming it.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Twinkl, Twinkl - How Good are you?

You have all heard of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" but today I want to talk about another
"Twinkl" which is also a star.

No I haven't spelt it wrongly.

It is Twinkl.

But what is it?  you ask.

Well before I tell you exactly what it is, what I use it for, and what a great resource you will find this to be;  I want to explain that I heard about this from my daughter-in-law and then met someone who works for this website in a Facebook blogging group we are both members of.  Due to all this I was offered a year's free subscription membership to the website in return for an honest review of the site.

So let's look at just what Twinkl really is:

Well it is a website full of educational resources made by many different people.  Some items are free to download and some require a subscription membership fee.

There is also the facility to make your own resources on their site and to offer your own resources for use there.

This is how they describe their site:

Screenshot of part of the Twinkl Homepage

My daughter-in-law is a Primary (Elementary for our US friends) School Teacher and her school has a subscription to the Twinkl website.

She uses it for  Posters,  Banners,  Games,  Worksheets  and especially loves it for Themes throughout the school year.

When I heard of it I thought of how I love to look at any types of resources with templates, worksheets, pictures etc. because they just might have something to suit some of the things I am involved in but I wasn't a Primary School teacher in fact I wasn't even a Mathematics Teacher any more.

However I have been involved in doing Kids Sunday School Curriculums in 3 different churches and I can always hope to find something to help me in that.

Then also I had just done a TESOL course and visuals would be very helpful in teaching basic English in a class we were setting up in our current church.

Although neither my daughter-in-law or myself have been involved in Homeschooling I know this would also be a great resource for all those Homeschooling parents around the world.

Now let's look at just how good Twinkl really is:

I'm going to show you some of the ways I have used resources from Twinkl for both of the things I mentioned above that I am involved in with our church.

Kids Work at Church

I'm always on the lookout for good pictures to illustrate items for the Kids Work and not just something for a Bible story.  We like to have posters to decorate the room,  attractive memory verse handouts,  attendance incentives,  nicely designed games and worksheets that the children will enjoy.

Twinkl also comes up with excellent resources that we can use.

They have PDFs to provide Flash Cards for bible Stories like the story of Easter

Printouts to make flip books

Pictures to illustrate stories that the children can colour in


Backgrounds for powerpoint presentations

Pictures for using as game cards

and  powerpoints of songs

Their illustrations are good, well-suited to children and very varied so you do not need to worry about everything looking the same and the children getting bored.

Teaching English as a Second Language

So far I have used some of their products for different teaching levels in almost all of my English classes and I especially like the variety of the many items like

                                         powerpoint presentations,  etc.

The first basic English lesson we taught was using the ipad to mirror to the TV screen and the subject was Food.

What better than the flashcards from Twinkl - they looked great on the ipad screen itself and also mirrored to the TV.

A few weeks later we tackled the topic of Colours and used Twinkle pictures in a powerpoint presentation.

A week or so later we were onto clothes for another powerpoint display

Then of course for using to teach the alphabet they have lots of cards etc. and when printing out you can make them the size to suit you for whatever project you want so you can have small cards like the size for playing a game of snap

or large cards for wall displays.

Instructions for games are also included in the PDFs you download

One of my favourite games to use is the Game of Concentration (matching game) and it is so easy to get resources for this in Twinkl


Another great game they offer in may different topics is Bingo

At the start pf each PDF you have a page which you do not print out but gives info on copyright so you always know how you are permitted to use the product.

Having had a long period of time to hunt through the website and see what resources I could use for specific topics I have been very pleased with the standard of the materials as well as the quantity.  I have also looked at other items that I would not need for my interests but which I know my daughter-in-law has used and would use for her school activities and I can definitely say I know why she loves this site.
Have a look around the site  and join up for the free membership to try out some of the resources.

If you like the site and decide to take a free membership or a paid subscription membership I WILL NOT benefit in any way. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

What's on our bookshelves? - Coffee & Conversation.

Do you enjoy reading?

Do you have a lot of books?

I have 5 bookcases in my study:

  • 1 completely full of Christian novels; 
  • another has Christian novels, devotionals and Bible Study books;
  • the third has bibles, commentaries, biographies and my Agatha Christie collection (Heron Books); 
  • the fourth has language books, photo albums, map books and my hoard of books to use for the Sunday School Curriculum for Church;
  • the last one has the rest of my non-Christian novels by various authors but quite a few of Nelson DeMille, Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Brad Melizer, Linwood Barclay & Lee Child.

We have lived in 8 different houses since we got married and each time we move we have all these books to pack up and then find the right places in the next home for the bookshelves.  

We keep saying that one day we should be thinking of downsizing so where will we put the books then?  

If they were all available as ebooks would we throw them out and buy them as ebooks? 

I know I would be tempted to keep my nice matching Agatha Christie novels at least as I really am enjoying sitting in the sun room with my hardback copies of these as I read through them all in Chronological Order and then review them here on the blog.

My husband and I read a lot of the same books, just as we watch a lot of the same TV series and this was always very handy when it came to travelling as we took the books we both wanted to read and shared them instead of each packing our own.  

Now of course it is so much handier to just carry our iPads and Kindles and we don't have to spend time beforehand deciding on the joint book list.

The only problem now is that not all the Christian novels we would like to collect are in ebook form.

We also find that those which are available as ebooks are very expensive compared to other novels.

However I do like to keep an eye out through Twitter and Facebook for any indication of free offers on ebooks or reduced prices and swiftly go on Amazon to snap them up.

The great thing about ebooks (apart from the fact that they are easy to carry around in the kindle or iPad) is the fact that you don't need extra bookshelves to store them in, well not real ones anyway.

"Is a book in your hand better than an ebook?"

My oldest son says a book in your hand is so much better than an ebook.
He is worse than us as he has a full wall of his apartment lined with books from floor to ceiling, plus another bookshelf on the wall beside this, then some boxes of books under his bed and of course we must not forget the several boxes of books he still has in our house under the snooker table.

This is like the Daddy.......Chips? question I mentioned in a previous post.

Books........Ebooks?     Which is it to be?

If you are interested in some recommendations for your book shelves - here are some of my favourites:

The Blue Bottle Club by Penelope Stokes

The Presence by Davis Bunn

The Panther by Nelson DeMille

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Pondering the Psalms - Psalm 146

Each Sunday I choose a Psalm and write down some brief thoughts on it.

Today I'm looking at Psalm 146 

This is one of those Psalms I feel is overlooked at times.

This Psalm falls into five parts:

V. 1-2
When to Praise the Lord.

V. 3-4
Who not to Trust in.

V. 5-7
The Hope we have in the Lord.

V. 8-9
The Deeds of the Lord.

V. 10
The Crescendo!

"When should we praise the Lord?"

When to Praise the Lord.
We must praise Him while we are alive.
Not just some of our years but all the years we we live knowing that He is the Lord.

Who not to Trust in.
Oh we should know this but still it has to be mentioned.
Humans are human they are not perfect as God is perfect.
Man has been given life by God and one day each man will lose that life he has been given.
We are finite so can not be the true inspiration for anyone.

The Hope we have in the Lord.
We have true happiness & help when we trust in God because He is our Hope.

The Deeds of the Lord.
Look how much we are told God does just in these few short verses.
He is the Creator, the Truth, the honest Judge, the Provider, the Rescuer, the Healer, the Uplifter of our souls, the Lover of Righteousness, the Carer.
But we must not forget He is also the one who will confront the wicked.

The Crescendo! 
The Psalmist again ends as he started this Psalm with Praise for the Lord.

We are not to choose when or how often we should Praise the Lord.
We are to do it while we live.
While we have breath.

We should start our days with Him in Praise and end them in Praise
to the only one who is worthy of that Praise.

To God be the praise forever and forever!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Waterwheel - A Dose of Encouragement 106

        Some years ago a friend of ours was going through a very hard time in her life.  

She came to stay with us for a couple of weeks and needed a lot of understanding, sympathy and encouragement to help her see that she was loved.

        One Sunday morning when we took her to church with us there was a time of prayer and ministry for individuals and my husband Fred asked her to go forward for God to bless her.  

I stood beside her and prayed that God would use someone there to really pray into her specific situation and that did happen as the people there could sense she had a great hurt to deal with.  

Then God showed me a picture of a waterwheel turning slowly round 
on the side of an old mill. 

As the wheel turned the sections of the wheel were filled up with water and this turned the wheel round and round.

This waterwheel was moving very slowly and we could think that it was moving so slowly that it would not make any difference to anything.  But something happened as the water was continually flowing through that wheel and turning it - there was energy created.  Even though the water was not very forceful and moving slowly through the wheel, the mill was still receiving power. 

Of course we would think that the mill required either a swift flowing current or a good head of water and with all the sections of the wheel intact the water would then provide the power that was needed.  Also if there were sections of that wheel missing it would be noticeable in the working of the mill. 

However that wheel was gradually going round and round and increasing in speed as it was letting the water do the work it was meant to do.

"Sometimes we need to remember the waterwheel"

Our friend needed to allow God to keep her in the flow of His love and care and settle in the security of knowing that He has enough love to encourage and keep her going. Things might seem like they were moving slowly and she might think she could not cope but with God she could count on the fact that all He did by the work of His Holy spirit would matter and He would help her cope with it all no matter how long it would take.

Sometimes I can feel the same way and need to remember that waterwheel myself.