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Monday, 28 November 2011

Ray on Monday - Here's To The Star!

We're baaaack!
My apologies for neglecting you all for so long. Ray and I have had over a couple of weeks away. And no, not really a holiday, a working holiday at The Word Writers Fair in Qld, two book-signings, book display at a couple of churches, including one where Ray was the guest preacher. But more of that on my post later this week. Stay tuned!

It is only a few weeks now to Christmas and Ray's thoughts have turned towards that wonderful event even sooner than mine have -so far anyway!

               Here's to The Star!

This was no mere twinkling star. Nor was it a falling star to wish upon. It was a new star to capture the attention of the astrologers in Babylon. The Star we recall at Christmas time was described by the Magi as ‘His Star.’ Who was He to them? How did they know about Him and why were they watching the heavens for a star sign?

The account in Matthew Chapter Two about the wise men’s visit to Judea is expressive in its simplicity and mysterious in its brevity. They saw the star in the East, knew it was about the promised Jewish Messiah and took off for Jerusalem where all that nation’s kings resided. God is the God of the unexpected and yet is faithful to His promise. In this matter the one born to be king was in Bethlehem–as Micah 5 declared. When the Magi left Herod it was night for we are told the Star glowed over Bethlehem, a few miles south east.

Back to the questions: How did they know this was His star? I believe the answer is in the book of Daniel. This man was among the deportees from Jerusalem to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. At fourteen, he with some others was chosen to undergo training in the art of Babylonian astronomy/astrology. For the next 80 years Daniel lived in that scene under two different regimes.

Daniel was a faithful servant of God. He knew the Scriptures. It is conceivable that in his position of authority he was able to share the Biblical testimony that in the future God would send the Messiah. There are many references to this promised One but not a date. Being astronomers and astrologers, they would be seeking what the scripture talks about as signs in the Heavens. When it happened hundreds of years after Daniel their expectation was realised.

We hear a lot about “following your dream.” The better aspect is to follow the promise of Scripture as did the Magi. It was a long and challenging journey but at the end they found Jesus, the promised One. He is the Star’s fulfilment. He is the ‘Star’ of Scripture. He is the One who completes the meaning of Christmas.

Ray (the star gazer) Hawkins.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ray on Monday - Least Likely To.....

Coming towards the end of life’s journey should be a time for reflection, assessment and tying up loose ends. In fact that is something we should have done on a regular basis across the years. This came to mind when I looked over some previously jotted down thoughts such as the following. I wrote it, as I often do, like a conversation in my mind with the Lord.

Place…a Sydney (Australia) suburban train.
Funerals are interesting experiences, Lord. We learn things most of us were ignorant of. For me, Lord, I learnt things about myself.
It was a good funeral as funerals go. My friend belonged to You. This made it easier to say farewell. At the family gathering afterwards a group of us from the ‘yester-years’ gathered and shared our journeys. Some have done quite well. Others have struggled. Some have remained faithful to the Faith. Some haven’t. That’s sad.
As I grew up with these people, we had a great time in the church and community. Friendships are precious and years apart don’t distract from that. When we are growing up it seems to me we are not very conscious of how our mates see us. That is why one young lady’s comments floored me a bit. On reflection they were true. I just didn’t think how others saw me then. She said “ You hung in there with the church when most of us at the time thought you were the least likely to succeed.”
I’m not sure, Lord, what she meant by ‘succeed’. To me it means that in their eyes I changed from a shallow, self indulgent hypocrite to a maturing, caring minister sold out to you. However, Heavenly Father, I can’t kid myself. I don’t think I would have ‘succeeded’ in any sense of the word if You hadn’t stood me on my head, metaphorically speaking, and said “Shape up or ship out!” How thankful I am that You prevailed. Your perseverance over the years has been the sole factor in any so called ‘success’ people may see. You shaped me up! You’ve kept me! You’ve proven Yourself true through Your word.
As I am carried along by this train, I am thankful for the honesty of my friend in reminding me that I was ‘the least likely.’ It creates a shout of gratitude to You. In Your mercy You have made a ‘least likely to succeed’ a testimony of what Your power can do with raw material surrendered to You.
Oh, that more of my friends had done that!
Ray (with room for improvement) Hawkins.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Ray on Monday - The Dead Who Speak

By (our) faith) he (Abel) still speaks, even though he is dead. Hebrews 11:4.

I have never heard his voice. In fact there isn’t any record in Scripture as to anything he said. However the writer to the Hebrews says ‘he still speaks’. The record about him preserved in the Bible concerns his faith and obedience even unto death (Genesis 4). The record has some message for us to search out.

Picking up a book by C.S. Lewis brought the subject matter to my mind for this Blog. He has been dead for a number of years yet his life and words live on. Such is the power of the printed page. Of course there are numerous examples of those long gone to Glory who still speak to our heart and mind. They still challenge us from the record of their life. Somehow when we read even long neglected works devoted to Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit breathes life into dormant words.

This is possibly one reason I keep writing, especially about the person, work of the Lord and His faithfulness tasted in my life. One day there will be no more words flowing from my mind through fingers onto a computer for printing. However scattered through bookshops, magazines, correspondence, internet and post-cards are words, words of faith, hope and gratitude for love.

Thankful I am that our gracious God doesn’t limit Himself to the greats such as C.S. Lewis and C.H. Spurgeon. The Lord takes the simple, plain unknown person who writes something honouring to Him and speaks to all classes of people. Who can tell, if the Lord Jesus delays His return, someone will stumble across a dusty book or magazine, brush away any cobwebs and be captured by the Holy Spirit through some word, sentence, testimony I have, you have written.

There are many reasons to write, for me one compelling reason is wrapt up in the account of Abel. He never knew the result of the account of his life, no will be. I do pray however that there will be at least a brief note saying something similar too ‘he/she being dead still speaks today!’

Ray (still breathing) Hawkins.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ray on Monday - What a Night

Place…sitting in bed.
I’m so tired Lord I need to talk with you before I get out of bed.
It’s been a rough night and I’ve got important business to do today. The very thought of it makes me cringe, not because of the work, but because of how I feel. A rubber ball is sharper than me at the moment.
Why is it that nearly every time I’ve some important business to do, especially when it relates to your Kingdom’s purposes, things get difficult the night before? It can’t be simply nerves! Take last night for instance. That thunderstorm was a cracker. It rattled the roof and walls with its thunderclaps and the rain, wow. When my eyes open enough to look out the window I reckon it will look like a lake. I probably could have slept through it after a while but the children were frightened, restless and having nightmares. Terrible combination for a parent’s sleeping programme.
So, here I am. How I wish I could stay in bed, call in sick and give the day a miss. Can’t be done, so I’m really desperate for your mercy! Times such as these push me towards one of three corners in my mind. To be honest, the most natural one is marked, ‘frustration and anger’. I can visualise it. Plenty of kick marks and sore toes but no value. The other corner, so tempting in which to hide, is signed, ‘self-pity and resignation’. Been there too often and didn’t do any good. The other alternative is, I know the best, but it is so demanding on the will. It’s signed, ‘Trust!’
Perhaps this is the corner from which Paul declared to the Corinthians, “ My, (meaning Your) grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” I sure would appreciate the same realisation. How I wish you would simply zap me with your grace power and let me get on with things. I know. You don’t work that way. So, out of bed, feet on the ground, get moving body. As I go, so your grace flows, that’s your way and this evening I’ll realise it. Just at the moment however it’s taking all the obedience my faith can muster to start.
Ooohhh no!
What’s happened now? Another problem!
The power’s gone off. Lord, if it stays off, or recurs in the meeting, what’ll I do? My wonderful (well in my thinking) power point presentation will be ruined.
What’s that? Zechariah 4:6. Let me look it up. “’Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.’”
I apologise Lord. I was thinking it was all up to me. Thanks for your promise.
Ray (Sustained by Grace) Hawkins

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Getting Ready - for several things!

Do you find yourself too often in the “Getting Ready” mode? I seem to be in that mode all the time lately!

We prepared for our new little grandchild – and gorgeous, thick black-haired and placid Haylee Mae arrived three weeks ago today.

Next we prepared for birthdays – both Haylee’s mother and her brother Adam’s second birthday just yesterday.

And while all those were waiting in the wings, we’ve been preparing to be away in Queensland for some time on a working holiday. This will be a very busy time to not only visit family but be involved in a writer’s conference, mentoring writers, two book-signing events, speaking appointments and inevitably other things we have not planned for.

This is one time I would like another lap-top computer. However I do prefer to work on this desk-top one so think the other would not be used enough to make the expense of keeping in updated worth while! And sometimes too, after all the hours on the computer, perhaps I need a holiday from it also?

The next major event of course is preparing for Christmas and having all our children here. How very special that will be this year again! There also appears to be a week looming in January of helping more writers at the Poatina Faith and Arts event here in Tasmania. Then there are hopes for a Romance Writers event... then...? I’m sure there will be others too as next year unwinds.

Blog followers, I’ve been able to schedule the Ray on Monday posts while we are away but am not sure about access to a computer to bring you this weekly Thursday (and too often Friday!) post or if I have time to schedule another each week while we are away. Do be patient with us! And we would love more followers of course, so if you just pop in occasionally we would still like you to join us as “Followers”.

And during all of this “busyness”, somehow my own writing on that manuscript tentatively called Her Outback Cowboy is sitting all forlorn waiting... and waiting...