On the 6th August 1945 a brilliant light flashed across the sky. In its wake, death and destruction followed on such a scale as never before imagined in human history. The first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
There followed very dark days as the people of Japan struggled to survive radiation and rebuild their lives and their city and mourn their dead. Japan has never been the same since, nor have the people forgotten. August 6th is Remembrance Day for Japan in particular and for the world in general.
A BRIGHT LIGHT
Bright lights have flashed across the skies at various
times, Halley’s Comet to name just one.
Predictions of doom and gloom follow like the comet’s tail in their
wake. Thankfully these predictions are
However, there were
astrologists who did predict that a brilliant star would appear in the
east. This star did appear at the same
time as a child was born in a stable.
The child’s birth seemed insignificant,
yet it sent the reigning monarch of the day into a flat spin
and he ordered thousands of children under two years old to executed.
When this child was grown to adulthood, he was known in some circles as the Light of the World. At his death, a great darkness covered the nation of Israel. Many people at the time felt that this man would lead the nation in throwing off the yoke of Roman domination. But the so-called Light was crucified. The light of hope had died.
Hope revived when it was discovered that he had risen from the dead. A bright light did not herald his reappearance, because in fact he had not left and would always be around in the hearts of those who believe in him.
CELEBRATE LIFE WITH LIGHT
The celebration of Easter is not the death of a man, but the rising light of Jesus, and the ushering in of grace, the era of unmerited, undeserved, unearned love. When God’s anger against man was appeased by Jesus. May Easter be a time when Jesus, the Light of the World, lights up your life.
Australia’s first commemorative stamp was issued on 9 May 1927 to mark the opening of the first Parliament House in Canberra. Subsequently, issues have appeared regularly commemorating Australian achievements and landmarks in Australian history. The first Australian multi-coloured stamps appeared on 31 October 1956 as part of the Melbourne Olympic Games commemorative issue. These were printed by a foreign company. The first Australian-printed multi-coloured stamp, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Australian Inland Mission, was issued on 5 September 1962.
I received an airmail
letter from the UK the other day and of course it had an English stamp with the
queen’s profile. I suspect most would
know that UK stamps are the only ones in the world that do not have the name of
its country printed on it. But do you
know why? It is because a schoolmaster
first invented the humble adhesive postage stamp in England. His name was Rowland Hill and it was issued
as a ‘penny black’ on May 6th 1840. If
you ever see a stamp without the name of the country you will always know it is
English. So what has this to do with the
In my last church, as Senior Pastor, one of my youth came in wearing a cross on a chain around his neck. I asked him why he had it on. He told me that he wanted people to know he was a Christian. I suggested that it might not be the best way to advertise his faith. I reminded him of James 2:18. James 2:18. James 2:18. James 2:18. “But some will say, ‘you have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show my faith by my works.” We recognise the English stamp because it does not advertise its country of origin. Christians should be recognised not by wearing crosses on chains or Bible texts on tee shirts but by their lives. One of the first verses I ever committed to memory was Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. Matthew 5:16. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
For most, Australian philately proper begins on 2 January 1913, 12 years after federation, with the issue of a red 1d (one penny) Kangaroo and Map, the design of which was adopted in part from the entry that won the Stamp Design Competition. This was the first definitive stamp with the sole nomenclature “Australia”. Although the delay between federation and the first stamps had several causes, one of the major reasons was political wrangling regarding the design. There was a considerable amount of opposition to any inclusion of British royal symbols or profiles.
STAMPS BLOTTED OUT.
The ardent collector
of postage stamps will recognise the obliteration mark showing the mail has
been paid for. The British Post Office
between 1860 and 1885 first used this mark.
Philately, so named from the Greek Philos (love) and Ateleia (tax
exemption), began when the postage stamp was introduced with its special
function of making a letter tax-free to the recipient, in contrast to the
former method of charge on delivery. The
obliterations simply cancelled out the stamps to avoid re-use. Ironically, time has made certain stamps so
marked more valuable.
SINS BLOTTED OUT:
When the Bible speaks
of obliteration, or blotting out, it means absolute erasing and making
clean. In Isaiah 44:22 Isaiah 44:22
Isaiah 44:22 Isaiah 44:22, we read: “I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy
transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins.”
And Peter’s second sermon in Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19: Acts 3:19:
“Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins be blotted out, when
times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Happy then is the person whose sins have been
blotted out. Are you in this
category? We can learn quite a lot from
the humble postage stamp and how much more valuable it becomes when the
postmark is applied, and how much more valuable we become when our sins are
Starting school is always harrowing for child and parent. For the child, he/she is separated from the security of the home environment and the parent. For the parent: there is the concern how will the child cope with a stranger in charge and surrounded by other children. Today, most children are enrolled in childcare, then kindergarten or preschool. They can start school well-adjusted socially and knowing school protocol and basic knowledge of the alphabet, shapes, colours, and numbers.
MY FIRST DAY
My first day, so long ago, I was so excited to be going to school. I had lived in the bush, isolated for other children. Kindergartens were for the cities and the rich. I was not prepared for school as children are today. Mum had made me some new dresses and all I could think of was my new dress. I remember it was so hot, no air-conditioning in those days, my hands were so sweaty and I left black marks over my books, this was embarrassing.
I really wanted to please my mother and show her I was a smart kid. I had such high hopes of doing well. When I arrived home I regaled Mum with my successes all she said was, ‘Hmm! You’ll be just like the others.’ Meaning, I will be like my older siblings, a disappointment to her academically. Her words stayed with me and influenced me for the rest of my primary school days. I accepted I would fail. Some subjects I gave up on totally and others I managed to get top marks. School became a chore, a burden I had to face every day.
HIS FIRST DAY
Before Bruce started school, he was practically free to do whatever he wanted. Starting school curbed his freedom, and he felt hemmed in on all sides.
‘You must not talk,’ the teacher spoke sharply to the six-year-old Bruce.
There were laws saying how long he could play; laws saying, ‘Sit still.’ Worst of all there was the law, ‘You mustn’t talk.’ The young Bruce was a chatterbox. He loved to ask questions, discover all he could. The little boy chaffed at the restrictions and disciplines
‘What shall I do with him,’ the teacher was at her wit’s end.
‘I’ve tried everything to keep him quiet.’ She looked at her pupil, ‘He
has broken the rules and ought to be punished.’ So she brought out the cane and
applied a mild punishment.
The little boy wept and cried and flooded the school room with tears. The teacher tried everything to pacify him, but the heartbroken sobbing continued. Eventually, the teacher took him on her knee and hugged him until the sobbing stopped. Bruce had failed to keep the laws and punishment was exacted, but love took him on her knee and restored his peace of mind.
The Bible refers to the ten commandments as being a school master, ‘The Jewish laws were our teacher and guide until Christ came to give us right standing with God through our faith. But now that Christ has come we don’t need those laws any longer to guard us and lead us to him. For now we are all the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.’ Galatians 3:24 – 26 LB.
‘That is the way it was before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals because we thought they could save us. But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Sn, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us us as his very own sons. and because we are his very own sons God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can now speak of God as our dear Father.’Galatians 4: 3 – 6, LB.
In effect, the Father took us on his knee and loved us. We wouldn’t be judged again for not keeping the laws if we believed Jesus to be our saviour. Jesus has covered us with his goodness; He turned our tears of sorrow at our plight into tears joy. We can believe the scripture as translated in the Living Bible, ‘ The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ.’
Bruce did well at school though he never stopped talking. He became a preacher. Me? I became a writer. I loved words, I would make stories up about words and the pictures they conjured up in my mind. I was always laughed at for the ‘big words’ I used. Try as I would to change my speech these words insisted on rolling off my tongue. They still do – that is – off my pen.
The life span of the average person is about eighty years. It seems a long time when one is living the moments, the days, the weeks, and the years. Rearing children and educating them, maybe re-joining the workforce and coping with a mortgage. One becomes so busy that every day is a memory before it has dawned. Retirement looms, we make plans for this third phase, often times those plans don’t materialise because old age sets in. Our health, mental and physical fails and we become prisoners of our minds and bodies.
If we have failed to plan for our retirement both in the financial area and lifestyle, life becomes an open road with nothing in sight but boredom, discontent and bitterness at being served a lemon. A person’s attitude to life plays a large part in developing a happy old age.
Analyse eighty years and this is what you get; twenty three
years sleeping, fourteen years working, eight years in amusement, six years
eating, and four years in transportation.
Four years spent in conversation, one year reading and one year in
If one is a church goer and attends every Sunday and stayed to the last hymn and they prayed every day for five minutes night and morning, the time spent on God would only amount to five months. Five months out of eighty years!
HANG ON A SECOND
Eighty years is but a second when compared to eternity, yet those eighty years determine where one will spend eternity. So much depends on the choices made during the eighty maybe ninety years.
The greatest use of life is to spend it on something that
will out-last the here and now. Life will have been misspent if one gets to the
end without knowing a living Christ, so as we face the future there will be
choices that will affect one’s life forever.
Good intentions and
resolutions leave us sitting on the fence disengaged with life. There is no second chance at life to rectify
the mistakes one has made however much we try to patch up the errors. Of course,
owning up to the mistakes and making restitution is important, the past though,
is not like a pair of jeans that can be patched and restored like new. Only God
has the power to make us new people.
Guilt, the fruit of the past, trips people up if it is not dealt with. Knowing Jesus deals with the past. Jesus took our past onto the cross with him and carried it into the grave and buried it with himself. God, his father, remembers our past no more. We have become guiltless and without a past, by Jesus’ action on the cross
When we have Jesus we have everything, so the Bible
declares. When we have Jesus, we have all that he has, we become a joint heir
with him in the Father’s will. Imagine
inheriting from God everything Jesus inherits.
God has invested Jesus, his only son, in us. God values us
equally with his only son. What have we invested in God? Five months?
There seems to be an imbalance here. Our whole life needs to be spent,
not on the concepts and of God, the habits of going to church and the praying
and reading the Bible and the doing good, but we need to invest in the life long relationship with God.
To count the time God has spent on us is impossible. Our five months of time spent on God is very puny by comparison. Only a relationship with God will be comparative and satisfactory to both parties.
‘What made you become a Christian, Paul?’ I asked. Paul had been a follower of Christ for most of his life. There had to be a reason for him to remain as true to Jesus as he had.
story is amazing, interesting and moving, so much so that others want to find
what he has and change their lives as well.
‘I have an
older brother,’ Paul begins his story. ‘When I was seven years old, he was
invited to a birthday party. I had to tag along, I was the kid in the
corner. The teenagers, just to have a bit of fun got out the Ouija board.
My life was impacted by that ‘bit of fun’ over the next few years with a
lot of demonic activity. I became aware of a spirit world, it seemed a black
world – evil – because of that night. I recognized this spirit world but
thought it all bad, hateful.
I was now
ten years old and already a broken personality. My family life was highly
dysfunctional. My parents told me there was no such thing as love. I grew
into an angry, swearing, hateful person who steal his grandmother’s socks.
Nobody wanted to know me.
The incident was normal for a year five boy. It was the era when teachers wrote notes up on the board and students had to copy them into their books. It was called learning, it was also boring so I began drawing cartoons in the back of my book. The boy sitting next to me stopped writing up the notes and watched me draw. It was a big risk for him if we were caught. Before long half the class was watching me.
Mr Nancarrow, turned around and saw half the class watching me.
bring that to me,’ he said.
I took it
to him, showed him the cartoon.
do them, they were too boring.’
know what is going to happen?’
this is 1968 and caning is still practised.
You’re going to send me to the office and I’m going to get the cane.
You’re going to send a note home to Mum.’
‘No. I’ve tried that so many times and it hasn’t worked. No! I’m going to do something different.’
‘O-K. ‘I wondered what that ‘different’ was going to be and felt very wary. Mr. Nancarrow had my full attention now.
are going to do, Paul, is you are going to go back to your desk and write
up the notes and whatever time is left over I will give you a stick of chalk
and you can show the class how you draw cartoons.’
back to my desk and scribbled down the worst written notes in the world.
The boy next to me said,
I’m busy,’ I said.
back to Mr Nancarrow with the notes and five minutes to spare. He couldn’t read
them but he kept his word.
down, Paul is going to show us how he draws cartoons.’ He passed me a stick of
I then ran
the first of many thousands of workshops in the Banksia Park Primary School.
Lord said, ‘anyone who knows you has no hope for you. But I have a hope for
you, I have a plan for you, I have a future. If you come with me, I will stay
with you and it will involve a lot of cartooning. Today, you’ve learnt the
power of Grace, you didn’t deserve it over the justice you did deserve. Paul,
I’m all about grace not about what you deserve, but what I want to give you.’
This was the first time God spoke to me.
I ignored God for eight or nine years until after a failed suicide
outside of the Piccadilly Theatre, North Adelaide, on a bus. At eighteen years
of age I had reached rock-bottom and there was nowhere to go except to God.
can’t do this anymore. My life is dark with all sorts of horrible things
which started when I was seven. I can’t do this anymore, I can’t even kill
myself. I don’t know what to do.’
Lord was quick to reply, ‘I’m here for you. Just remember, I never left
you, you left me. If we do this, I don’t do trial runs. It’s all or nothing
from today. Let’s do this.’
have it all,’ I said. ‘I am nothing, I have nothing to give. You can have
all of that’.
for many years of my life, I’d caught that bus and as corny as it sounds, for
the first time that day I noticed the trees were green, the birds were singing
and the sky was blue. I was eighteen years old but had never noticed the
colours before. I had no idea what had happened to me. I’d had to teaching, or
training, no Bible before.
Not knowing what had happened to me I went back to do the same old things with the same people in the same old places. There was a difference though, I didn’t fit in. I felt like a turnip in a fruit salad. It just wasn’t the same anymore. My life changed instantly. All the demonic activity just fled and the darkness immediately lifted. I had been born again on that bus and the year was 1976. God had come into my life and changed me completely. I was freaked out. Just prior to the experience on the bus, I had been investigating with my drawing all kinds of dark, unusual areas. God removed all that from me.
The Lord spoke again, ‘Paul, I don’t want you to do anymore drawing until I say so. When you draw again you will do it for me.’
month later, when I was praying, God spoke,
want to start drawing for me.’
said, ‘what will that look like?’
Next day I
received a phone call from a guy, ‘Paul, I hear you can draw. I’m designing a
gospel tract to be used in Estonia. I need such and such a design on the cover
Could you do that for me?’
It’s now fifty years later and God has been true to his word. I haven’t always been true to his word but he has been true, faithful and loyal.
an unusual number of cartoons in that time just as he said I would.
People are varied and their experiences and opinions in life are just as varied. So it is with God. Some people readily believe there is a God. Others struggle with the question, finally concluding there is no God and find alternate answers to life’s big question. Still others seek, question, examine the question. Only then will they believe.
I asked three people the question, Is there a God? Their answers are in brown text.
Bruce Leane has been a pastor for over sixty years, pastoring and preaching throughout the state of South Australia.
‘Yes, the mystery of creation is too great for there not to be a divine mind. The Bible declares there is a God and I believe these ancient writings to be true.’ Bruce Leane
All the while God is in the wings, waiting leaving a trail here and there, with signposts so we can pick up the signs that lead to him. We miss them too often and continue to agonise over the question. Still God waits with yet more signs.
Naomi Wilson is a singer/song writer.
‘I always answer this with a YES! And it is always followed by the question, how do I know? Well, for me God is the warmth when life leaves me out on my own; God is the laughter when my life is good; God is the hope when I think my dreams are fading; God is the celebration when I succeed. I know he is real because he is alive in the everyday experiences of my life.’ Naomi Wilson
What is required to unlock the presence of God is faith. ‘You can never please God without faith, without depending on him. Anyone who wants to come to God must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely look for him.’Hebrews, 1: 6. LB
Jojin George was born in India and emigrated to Australia. Jojin George is a Digital Marketing Consultant.
Yes, there is a God; he is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, maker of heaven and earth, he is God almighty who gave his only son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice so that we might live with him eternally. The word of God clearly invites us to Taste and See that God is good. “Is there a God?” is not an unanswered question for me, I have personally tasted and seen that God is good and he is as real for me as you are. I did not have to search or research for an answer, all I did was ask God and he answered. Jojin George
Like any good mother, when Karen found that another baby was on the way, she began to help her three year old son Michael, prepare for his new sibling.
To encourage Michael to build a bond with his new sister he was allowed to sing to her every day while still in the womb.
Then it was time for the baby to be born. Things didn’t go well for the little girl and she was placed in the neo-natal intensive care unit at the hospital. The paediatrician delivered the sad news that the little girl wouldn’t make it.
Michael badly wanted to sing to his sister and kept begging to be allowed to. Karen decided to ignore the rules and dressed him in a scrub suit and took him to ICU looking like a laundry basket.
After some strong words on Karen’s part Michael got to sing to his sister. When the pure three year old voice rang out, ‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine…’ it was noticed that the baby responded.
Keep on singing,’ urged Karen. Michael sang, ‘You’ll never know dear, how much I love you…’ ‘
Keep on singing,’ the nurse urged.
The next day, incredibly, the baby went home. It was called the Miracle of a Brother’s song.
Love is so incredibly powerful.
A POWERFUL LOVE
How can we measure a love that is depthless, width less and height less? Mount Everest is the pinnacle of our concept of height but how puny when compared to the love God extends to us. From the beginning of time we were the love object of God.
Calvary is spoken of as the climax of love but the love of God goes even beyond Calvary, from the known and explored to the unexplored and unknown. Can the human heart ever plumb the depth of God’s love? We can only get a glimmer every now and again.
God’s love is none the less real, it saves us, heals us, lifts us beyond what we can be. God’s love is without conditions, we don’t have to work hard to earn God’s love, and his love is not a commodity to be bought, paid for in kind. God’s love is there all we have to do is accept it and live in it and rest in it, not questioning as to why he love us but that he does.
Such love is called Grace, the unlimited favour of God. The favour of God is upon you just live in it.
DO YOU HEAR THE SONG OF LOVE?
Michael’s sister heard his song of love and she lived. Have you heard your elder Brother, Jesus’ song of love and live?