“I Need Some Help Here!” Book-Review: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

What I expected and what I got from this book were two different things.  The title “I Need Some Help Here!” makes me think of Michelle Pfeifer or Julia Roberts playing a harassed mum, up to her eyeballs in dirty nappies; yoghurt spattered on the wall; a pre-schooler with only one shoe …  I  expected lots of funny stories of little ones and their mishaps, and tips on how to cope with them; what I got was a very serious twelve chapters on how best to bring up children.  There were several stories, but more emotional than practical, and none that really made me laugh.  The first chapter was particularly hard-going.  To grab people’s attention, it should have started in chapter three.

 

This book could benefit new Christians, Sunday churchgoers, struggling parents or those who want to support them.  Its main themes being prayer and God’s sufficiency, there are prayers for children and their parents.  You will find useful advice in here (the chapter on mental illness especially), but Kathi’s packed a lot in to some of the chapters, so definitely not a light read to pick up and put down.  Changing the format to a month-long devotional might improve it somewhat, but I wouldn’t be falling over myself to buy this for a new mum.

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In the Middle of it All

“”Stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a complaining fool is worse than either” (Proverbs 27:3).  There’s definitely a place for bearing each other’s burdens; for talking over problems and getting things off our chests, but if we constantly complain, we’re not only a burden on the shoulders of those around us, we’re bad for ourselves too.

 

“A quarrelling wife is as bothersome as a continual dripping on a rainy day” (Proverbs 27:15), and if you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night to a leaking roof and raindrops coming in, you’ll know how bothersome that is!  All you want is an end to the problem.  If you’re the quarreller, perhaps all you can see is the problem and you want an end to it too.

 

I don’t claim to have the answer in your situation, but there is a verse at the end of this chapter that might help.  “There will be plenty of goat’s milk to feed you and your family and to make your servant girls healthy” (Proverbs 27:27).  In other words, God’s plan is for us to have plenty to meet our needs – not our wants, but our needs.  Whether it’s a quarrel with your spouse you’re in the middle of, or another problem – big or small, why don’t you step back from it for a few minutes?  Try to think of ways God has met your needs – the clothes you’re wearing, the food on the table, etc.  We can overflow with thankfulness when we know that with God, we may not have everything we want, but we have enough.

 

Just because I’m writing this, please don’t think I have it all together.  There are days I get really fed up with the doors that seem to slam in my face.  At those times, hearing other people’s unanswered prayers can discourage me and prayer can even seem pointless, but when I stop to think about it, when I think how God’s answered some of my prayers – how He’s brought someone along just when I’ve needed help, or got my mum through the chemotherapy, I know it’s not pointless after all.

How to be Poor

It’s amazing how, when I read some of these chapters, I discover a theme running through them:  Today’s seems to be poverty.

 

“The plans of hard-working people earn a profit, but those who act too quickly become poor” (Proverbs 21:5).

 

“Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and perfume will never be rich” (Proverbs 21:17).

 

Last but not least, perhaps one of the most important verses in this chapter:

“Whoever ignores the poor when they cry for help will also cry for help and not be answered” (Proverbs 21:13).  This might bring to mind people you’ve helped, but maybe you’re also remembering that person asking for loose change – the one you found an excuse not to help.  Thanks to what Jesus did on the cross, forgiveness is there for our past mistakes, but from now on, let’s think about the poor and not shut our ears to them.

The Devil is not Defeated

Maybe this sounds a strange title for a post, especially this week when people everywhere are remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross to destroy the works of the devil, but the message of the post is simple:  If we don’t act on that, the devil is not defeated.

In the Bible, James 4:7 tells us:  “Submit yourselves then to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  When Jesus died and the Holy Spirit was sent to live in His followers, that same Spirit gave us the power to resist; but unless we resist, the devil is not defeated.

Does that sound harsh?  Are you a follower of Jesus who feels you’re being sucked back into slavery?  I’m not writing this in anger.  I write because your friends (the ones who love you) are deeply, gut-wrenchingly sad when they think about the pain you’re in.  You know the Bible-verse that talks about the Holy Spirit praying with groans that words can’t express?

Please, please, resist.  Don’t let the devil destroy your life; let Jesus destroy him.

* * *

If this hits home for anybody reading, will you do something about it?  Jesus loves you and wants to help you; please, let Him.  “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” – Isaiah 40:31.

Not Ashamed

Do you sometimes think people look at you and see someone who’s not enough – not capable enough, not mature enough, not interesting enough?  I do, and I’ve a feeling I’m not the only one.  Where do we go for help at times like that?

 

At the beginning of the week, I was out with a team of people doing a school assembly.  I had to stand up, take a few steps forward and turn to face the children; that’s all.  Someone I hadn’t worked with before saw my blindness and thought the children would worry about me, but I think she was more worried than any of them were!  She was constantly fussing.  Was I happy to do it?  Did I want her to walk with me?  I left that building feeling I was no good and couldn’t do anything right.  Yes, that was rubbish, but feelings can be like that.  So, a couple of days later, before the next assembly, I went to one of my favourite verses in the Bible.  I wanted to remind myself of truth before I went out into the world:  “Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you” – Isaiah 43:4.  Did you get that?  God does not see you as no good.  You are precious and honoured in His sight.

 

There’s another, similar one:  “The LORD bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless” – Psalm 84:11.

 

And here’s the one I particularly wanted to share.  It came into my mind this morning:  “Jesus and the people He makes holy all belong to the same family.  That is why He isn’t ashamed to call them His brothers and sisters” – Hebrews 2:11 (Contemporary English Version).  What a great chapter Hebrews 2 is, and I can still remember when I first heard that verse – 20 March 2005; I even remember who was preaching.  I remember it because it absolutely blew me away, and it still does:  Jesus is not ashamed to call me His sister; to call you His sister; to call you His brother.  He loves us!  He died and took away our stuff that God couldn’t look at, so God could look at us – so we’d be able to spend time with Him for eternity.

 

Let me end with a question.  If the Lord Jesus isn’t ashamed of you, who are you to be ashamed of yourself?

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Before I was a Christian, I hadn’t heard much about the Holy Spirit. At the church I went to as a child, we stood there and said He “proceeds from the Father and the Son”, and “With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified”. It gave me the impression He was a bit of an aside, not Someone crucial to the Christian faith.

After becoming a Christian, when I wanted to attend a church, we had a leaflet put through our door by the Christadelphians. They were organising a Bible exhibition. We’d never heard of them, but we assumed they were some form of Christians, so my mum and I went along. We stood in front of the glass cabinets, she read me some of the information about what was on display, and we stayed for the talk afterwards. I was impressed with their passion. For example, the man speaking said he once gave someone a Bible and told them: “If you can find a contradiction, I’ll burn it”, and we gave him a round of applause.

I came home, phoned a friend and excitedly told her where I’d been. I said: “They don’t believe in the devil, and they don’t believe in the Holy Spirit”.

Alarm-bells must have started to ring in her head. “Ah. That’s where they go wrong, see.”

“But why?”

“Well, they just … do.” It was fairly late; she probably didn’t want to get into an argument, but I think I was ready to learn about the Holy Spirit. If you are too, hopefully this post will be helpful.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, so He could only be passed on to us when Jesus had finished His life on earth, and gone back to heaven to be with the Father. “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). The Holy Spirit is our Comforter – the whole reason why the disciples didn’t sink into complete despair after Jesus left them; they had His promise He would send His Spirit.

He’s also our Helper. I wrote yesterday about keeping our relationship with Jesus fresh (remembering His part in our lives, instead of letting that become a thing of the past). The Holy Spirit helps us to do that. He reminds us of everything Jesus has said to us (John 14:26).

And one more: He’s our Empowerer. He gives us power to live our Christian lives. Jesus told His disciples to wait until they were clothed with power from on high before they spread His message to Jerusalem, the places surrounding it, and then to the ends of the earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). The more influence the Holy Spirit has in our lives, the more effective we’ll become as Christians. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). If you want to know whether you’re maturing as a Christian, look to see whether there’s evidence of this fruit growing in your life. If you’re someone who used to get irritated with people, do you see yourself becoming more loving, more patient? If you’re someone who would get frustrated and fly off the handle, are you finding that happens less frequently? Hope I can say yes to that one!

God’s Holy Spirit has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). There are plenty of gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy etc (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). I would really encourage you to find out about these, and if you’ve got a question, please ask in the comments. I just wanted to give you a taste of the Holy Spirit – how important He is, and what He can do for us.

Any thoughts?

Who to Help

This seems a common snipe at sponsors. I’ve heard it said myself: “Some people help in Kenya or wherever, but they don’t help local charities”. So?
What About the Kids in our own Country?

Emily, who’s a Compassion blogger, shared a great answer to this question while she was in the Philippines.  She’s one of those whose writing I really love, so please read her post.

 

For my part, I hope I don’t ignore the children on my doorstep. Yes, God has called me to sponsor in other countries, but He also calls me to act nearer home. I’m happy every time I see my friends’ children. There’s a 7-year-old I know, and to have him climb on the sofa next to me and say “I love you” is one of the sweetest things! But the ones who depend on my financial support for school uniforms, the ones who consider me part of their family or ask for my prayers – they just happen to live in the Philippines and Haiti.

 

Do you feel called to take up the challenge – the challenge of loving someone half a world away? Why not prayerfully look at these children waiting for sponsorship and see what God says?