A very good book

I have been reading this book since I was a little girl. And as long as I live I will never finish reading it. It never gets old. There are sections I haven’t yet read at all, and others I know by heart. There is always something new to learn or a truth I need to remember or a challenge to change something in my life.

It isn’t just a good book. I think it is the best book.

I received this copy of The Message Bible as a gift at a recent conference. I usually read from the NIV or ESV translation when doing Bible studies or my quiet times. But I’ve started reading from this translation, before I go to sleep. It’s a blessing to read this beloved book in fresh, every day language.

The Bible is the best book because it’s all about the best thing in the world – God’s mission to bring people back to relationship with himself through sending Jesus, his son, to die on the cross and rise again.

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‘My’ (not-so) secret garden

Nestled in the middle of three office towers and the freeway that leads to the Harbour Bridge, there lies a garden. Grass, ponds, shady trees, a fountain, interesting plants and garden seats. Each day, as long as it’s not raining, I escape from our dark windowless office, lunch in hand and wander through the lobbies of those office buildings (with my best accountant/banker face on of course) to the little sanctuary beyond.

This little garden is my favourite place to spend my lunch breaks. Though on an especially sunny day it can be hard to find a seat, it’s rarely crowded – with people or birds or cigarette smoke, rather unlike the other parks and open spaces in the city.* Here I sit, eat, read and ponder over my Bible, soak up the sun and people watch. This escape sustains me, refocuses me on the bigger picture and helps me keep going through the afternoon.

It’s not really so secret either – you would just have to know it was there. I’m thankful for my slightly secret garden.

my secret garden

*Once, an ibis tried to steal my lunch out of my hand here, but I haven’t seen any for weeks!

(And after what turned into a month long break from blogging after my Advent Blog, it feels good to be writing on here again). 

Advent Blog Day 4 – Friendship

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Tonight we met with our church small group – probably for the final time this year. We reflected on what the book of Proverbs has to say about friendship. According to Proverbs, great friendship is characterised by loyal, constant, unconditional love that mutually encourages both people.

It was a joy to share and reflect on these things with friends – with people we have grown closer to as we have shared life and learned together over the past year.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

In dying for us we see that Jesus is the ultimate friend. He loved us before we even knew him.

God has blessed me with many wonderful friends. I’m thankful for each one and feeling challenged to be more intentional in my friendships. I pray that I might love my friends at all times, in a way that is deeply, truly encouraging.

Here’s a little photo snapshot of some dear friends…

NaiSuse

AJNAiKtKathNai Vioricaone1seven

(and if you’re not here I still love you…it’s almost midnight – my advent blog deadline!)

A leap day – this is the day

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It’s 29 February (still, but only just!) and a lot of people have been talking about making the most of ‘the extra day’. I have been reflecting on this verse today – it just came to mind, as verses put to Sunday School songs tend to do.

Rejoice.  According to a couple of online dictionaries I consulted, to rejoice means:

to be glad; take delight (often followed by in ): to rejoice in another’s happiness.

On one level the Psalmist is inviting us to actively praise God in and for every day, and to be glad, so to actively have an attitude of gladness in our hearts.

As a little girl this was all I understood this verse (or song) meant. To be happy every day.

But, truth is, every day we’re alive is another day God sustains us. Amidst the big and small, happy and sad, He desires our praise, our delight, in him. Why? Because He never changes – He is always faithful, holy and worthy of all praise.

When I looked at more of Psalm 118 (no I didn’t already know the reference unfortunately, just been singing the tune…I googled it) I also noticed that it looks forward to a bigger day – the day of Jesus’ victory over death.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:21-23

Since that day has already come – Jesus has died and risen and will return, and I know God’s amazing grace, how much more must I praise God in every day and act, speak, think with a heart of gladness? So much more. On leap days. Ordinary days. Exhausting days. Boring days. Exciting days. For eternity.