Sunday, 7 December 2014

Souvenirs


We all like to collect souvenirs - places we have been maybe - little trinkets of mementos of people who have meant a lot to us and places that have touched our lives.

Photo albums, books, letters tied with ribbons, nick knacks of all descriptions - yes! souvenirs can be important to us.

Christmas time is a lovely time for many - filled with family, laughter, food and fun BUT unfortunately for others it can be a time of intense pain and heartache. Yes, Christmas time can be a lonely horrible time for many.

Many many families are broken - parents and children's relationship smashed beyond reconciliation, siblings not on speaking terms or parents divorced, separated or estranged. This can be the norm for countless hundreds of people. So sad, tragic really and unfortunately the pain is very very real.

These feelings can be some of the 'silent' souvenirs we carry about with us. Souvenirs that so many of us don't want to collect but are thrust upon us. Often to burden us for ever.

Every so often we take out these silent mementos, often when we are alone and re-live occasions and feelings, - a broken or wounded heart, thoughts of 'what may have been', an accusation that has left us overwhelmed, a regret here, a tragedy there.

The loss of a child, a spouse, a parent or a sibling. Our silent souvenirs are all there, waiting for us  just to 'scratch the surface' of our lives and they come bubbling to the top to remind us again of a past hurt or grief.

So souvenirs can be lots of fun, nostalgic and loaded with great memories, but as you can see some souvenirs give us the feeling of emptiness - nothing left - just memories, token threads, lying in the middle of our broken hearts and lives.

So what's in your treasure chest of souvenirs? I know I have dragged mine out often and sorted and counted them - set them apart and re-lived many sad experiences and regrets.

So what do we do with these souvenirs - do we have to have keep re-living them, dragging them out and re-hurting ourselves.

Jesus wants to take our souvenirs - it's as simple and straightforward as that - of course that doesn't mean that miraculously we will stop thinking about our past hurts or current tribulations. We won't automatically find amazing solutions to mend broken hearts and families.

But God has promised to "work all things together for the good of those who love Him. who have been called according to His purpose."

This is an amazing promise, A promise to give us hope and light at the end of our tunnel of despair. With this promise we can rest assured of His great love, a love that will never let us go, never fail us and give us the assurance and confidence we all need to "get on" with our lives and press on with Him.

In Philippians 4: 6-7 Paul writes "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Notice how this passage emphasises the 'peace' of God - this peace can be so easily 'tapped' into. How? By trusting Jesus to do what he says.

We need to give our broken lives to Jesus - not only our lives, but our broken hearts, broken families and our broken relationships. He is ever ready to take our grief also - His promises are sure and true.

Psalm 55:22 says in the Message Bible version  "Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - He'll carry your load, He'll help you out."

How about that! Jesus is more than willing to allow us to literally 'pile your troubles on God's shoulders' He wants to take your burdens - no matter what they are - nothing is beyond His help - nothing is too hard for Him.

Proverbs 3: 5-6 states among other things to "Trust the Lord with all your heart". Just maybe we could start to see our troubles, grief or whatever as the perfect way to start trusting God with all of our hearts and then we may be able to see that God is indeed bigger than all of them put together.

So, taking one step at a time and praying for God's word to guide us, we can hand all of our 'souvenirs' to Jesus. We ask Him to take our burdens, whatever they are, and trust/depend on Him to do what he has promised.

God bless you this Christmas - may you be filled with the peace of Jesus as you submit to Him as Lord of your life.






Tuesday, 25 November 2014

There's no denying!

William Tyndale was strangled and burnt at the stake in 1536 for heresy because he dared to stand up for Christ and translated the Bible into English.

Pastor Saeed Abedini is currently in his 3rd of an 8 year sentence for daring to tell others of his faith - Saeed , a former Muslim converted to Christianity and set up house churches in Iran.

Persecution like Saeed's and even further to Tyndale is pretty much unheard of here in the west, but in my opinion we should be warned - it will come our way and sooner maybe than any of us can expect.

Just recently, tolerance for such things as homosexuality, is rife and there are laws afoot that make it a 'hate crime' to voice your opinion on what the Bible plainly teaches.

Here in Australia, scripture in schools is being 'outed' as 'cultish', outdated, fairy tales and fantasy. Many schools have had to make a choice between allowing scripture or facing a backlash of media scrutiny and parent protest.

I can see in the not-to-distant future it will become a crime to voice your opinion on Christianity and doing so could lead to prison sentences simply for taking a stand for Christ.

We can't allow ourselves to be persuaded to 'water-down' our faith; to compromise the very grace of God that saved us just so we don't 'offend' someone in the community.

Jesus himself warned His disciples of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees - an act which ultimately led to His death on the cross.

We have to be so careful and be so aware of hypocrisy in our own lives. Would we be prepared to confess our Lord Jesus when we are under pressure?

Pressure for us, as those living in Christ, will certainly come to us if it hasn't already; whether it will be severe persecution or social rejection, we as Christians will have to give an account to our peers at some stage.

The BIG question we have to ask ourselves is "How will I react? Will I confess Jesus or will I deny Him? This very question is not some 'airy-fairy-pie-in-the-sky' question - It is deadly serious!

Jesus Himself warns us that our very eternal destiny hangs on this question. If we deny Him under pressure then we become hypocrites; saying one thing then acting another: all hypocrites will face God's judgement!

In Matthew 10:33 Jesus says "But...whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my Father in Heaven" (New Living Translation)

Even unto death we have to confess Jesus before all people: and I truly believe that there is coming a time, and sooner than we think when we will have to do just that - Are you prepared? am I?

I believe too that even our sins are an act of denial of God. We so often deliberately sin, turning our backs on God and doing the "I did it my way" thing! How dare we!

God never turns His back on us, not ever and yet we so often fall for Satan's tricks and feel we can do it ourselves; we get offended and put out; we try, ever so hard, to confirm to the world's standards, when all the time, God's grace, mercy, forgiveness and love are extended to us constantly.

Yes: denying Christ can take all sorts of forms; whether it be our sins of rebellion or failing to own His amazing name.

Jesus recognised that our words and deeds can have a huge bearing on how we are spend eternity: we would be so foolish to simply ignore or shrug off as inconsequential His mighty words of warnings here in Matthew.

We must make a choice and once made to 'stick with it' even in the face of potential persecution, imprisonment or even death.

God bless you as you speak out for Jesus; Make His name known to all and let the world know where you stand.




Friday, 7 November 2014

Indescribable

Do you like me rush around and get into your day, hardly thinking about just how amazing 'the day' actually is?

When you think about it here we are perched on a spinning giant ball hurtling through space at a rate of half a km every second - we are spinning at 1,675 km's an hour.

That borders on the bizarre really - freakish even - when you actually take time to analyse it.

We are the only planet in this huge amazing cosmos that supports life - lunging through the atmosphere, circling a gigantic fiery planet big enough to fit 1.3 million 'earths' in it's vastness at 108,000 km's an hour.

That is totally  mind blowing - when you stop and actually think of our sun - it's huge; amazing - spell binding - a fiery ball of gas and plasma which can blind us if we look at it for any length of time.

The sun is the very centre of the solar system and here we are hurtling around it at incredible speed and yet the very force of our spinning creating 'gravity' which keeps our feet on the ground. We don't appear to be spinning and we feel we are on a firm footing and yet we are actually rushing at incredible speed.

You can't possibly feel that all of this just happened to fall into place - the balance of the universe alone is enough to make God real in every sense.

The Bible says in Romans 1:20 that we have no excuse WHATEVER in not knowing God. - the whole creation screams at us of a Creator God -  God: awesome in power, majesty and might Our God that you can see in everything.

God has revealed Himself plainly in creation: he created you and me - we didn't just evolve - we were created uniquely and divinely not just some accident in space spat out in an explosion of molten fluid and gases.

God created and we sinned - we were the ones who turned our backs on Him - He has always been the same and will be for eternity - This old world of ours will gradually teeter and spin out of control BUT God will remain - Yesterday, today and for eternity.

You have really got to to hear this! - God loves us - you and me - He sent His own Son to bear the punishment which should have been metered out to us - Our punishment - not His - Our sin - not His. He took our sins and killed them stone dead on that cross all those years ago.

Its totally and utterly crazy that God; the creator of this amazing spinning universe had His own son punished for us and why?

Because he loves us that much - The very God, the Creator God, the majestic God, the awesome God, loves you; actually LOVES you.

He loves us and wants desperately to have a personal relationship with us: again, how spellbinding is that!!! - the very Architect of the Universe wants to have a personal relationship with you!!!

We have to make a choice here; Gods wants desperately to forgive your sins  and have that personal relationship with Him BUT you have to choose to accept Him.

Thing is - when we actually stand before our Mighty God we only have one plea and that is JESUS - He paid my penalty for me - He paid the price that should have been mine. When God looks at me He will see Jesus - Will you be able to say the same?

Today, even right now you can KNOW for sure that when you die you will spend eternity with God. You need to get alone with God and accept His amazing offer of forgiveness and let Him change your life.

Begin this awesome walk with God - You will never be the same again - even in the bad times He is there with you.

The God of the universe LOVES you! - He wants so much for you to come to Him.

Don't delay there is nothing to delay about! - You can know today for sure that Heaven is yours - It's time to stop, think and act. Today is the day of salvation.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Shooting at others and wounding yourself


Who can forget the amazing story of the Cheerleader Mum who hired a hit man to murder her daughter's competitor's Mother?

Wanda Holloway's claim to fame blew the newspaper stands off their feet with this amazing story of envy, jealousy and malevolence.

In 1991 according to Wikipedia "Holloways daughter, Shanna was beaten out for a spot on the Johnson High School's Cheerleading squad by Amber Heath, age fourteen."

That was the start of a chain of events that culminated in Wanda hiring the hit man to murder Amber's mother and subsequently being sentenced to ten years jail.

She believed that Amber would be so devastated by her Mothers death she would drop out of the team thus awarding the top spot to her own daughter Shanna. And why? All because of envy.

So what causes envy?

Envy is an emotion and like most other emotions can be traced back to some other underlying problems like desiring to be better than others or having an unhealthy ambition to better yourself or your family at the expense of anyone or anything else.

Sometimes looking at other peoples success can make us bitter and angry. We look at the gifts they possess and compare them with what we have and what is happening in our lives - The talents of their children for example compared with our own can make us resent every little success they have.

Envy can destroy long time  friendships and even families - I personally know of a deep friendship that was torn apart simply because one family's child succeeded and achieved in an audition and the other missed out - amazing but true. One family couldn't come to terms with the other's success and the hurt was just too much to bear, envy had taken it's devastating toll.

Envy gets us focusing on what we can't have rather on the amazing reality of what we do have.

This unique life has been freely provided to us by God, yet envy of others or things can put our focus on everything and anything that we believe we have every right to. Actually when we analyse it - we don't have rights to anything at all - we have responsibility to pursue goals BUT they are not rights.

On saying that I do appreciate how hard it must be to yearn for something so badly and see others attaining what you want with all your heart and yet you are unable to achieve what they have. It takes courage and peace of heart to be genuinely happy for that person and to be content.

Its so so difficult for an envious person to share the joys of others especially when they see them getting or achieving what they so desperately want.

So how do we overcome envy? To be perfectly honest, envy is often an unwelcome side of my personality and a side of me that I know is wrong and one in which God does not want me to have in my life. I would like to share just some of the ways God has helped me to overcome this nasty sneaky little sin.

Firstly read Galatians 5: 16-26 and you will find that envy along with a host of others is a product of our human sinful nature - This nature has to be controlled by God's nature - The Holy Spirit.

Giving our lives fully to Christ is the very starting point in overcoming our sinful nature - believe me you can never do it on your own - There is no "I did it my way" in overcoming sin - no matter what that sin is.

Recognise envy for what it is - name it - "I'm envious" - say it aloud if you have to. Naming it blows its cover - you have recognised how you are feeling now grab hold of God's promise.

Once we have recognised it for what it is - ask God to eradicate these thoughts from your life and especially in the situation you are facing right now. Ask His forgiveness and once you have accepted that you can start anew with Jesus.

In Galatians 5:16 it says "Let the Spirit direct your lives, and you will not satisfy the desires of the human nature". Simply put, once the Holy Spirit is directing our lives we can execute all desires of sin by being influenced by God's Spirit not ours.

Carting envy around with us makes us bitter and will definitely drive a huge wedge between God and us. God and His promises are vital for us to grow spiritually and become mature in Him. Mature enough to banish envy from our lives for good.

Also accept the fact that God made you unique; thank Him for that fact; He created us for praise - so praise Him especially in times when envy creeps up on you unexpectantly (and believe me Satan will make sure it does).

Remember selfishness is the mother of envy. If we can get our minds off what we want and start thanking God for what we have and stop comparing ourselves to others - miracles will occur.

God so wants us to have contented and fulfilling lives in Him and the only way we can do that is to have God-focused lives - with new goals and  new standards.

With the Holy Spirit indwelling us we can move from the ordinary into the extraordinary - putting aside anything, including ourselves, and moving to a much higher life with God.














Wednesday, 15 October 2014

...But I'm still asking why?






Why? - Good question.

Why does a lot of things happen when they are not supposed to - it's a question that often doesn't get answered I'm afraid.

When we look at the world stage and what is happening it makes our hearts just about burst with anxiousness and hurt for others - the terror and horror that is unfolding before us can make our heads spin.

Man's inhumanity to man seemingly has no bounds and then there is sickness as well.

Illness and even death in our families can leave us asking the inevitable question of WHY?

Just recently our No 2 Grandblessing was extremely ill - rushed off to hospital in the early hours, she needed immediate but comparatively minor surgery to alleviate the acute pain.

The pain scale was off the chart and she being the brave little soldier that she is sucked it in  and got on with the job of coping as best she could - until the pain got so unbearable she could take no more.

Being Grandparents in this situation, I can reassure you, is probably the hardest thing I have even had to do or witness. We immediately went to prayer, the hours wore on - We prayed through the night as the hours dragged.

The hospital staff, being at the start of the weekend, could do little - the minor surgery needed to alleviate the immediate pain could not be undertaken as it was the weekend - told to come back on Monday - she was given a small amount of pain relief and sent home in agony.

The next two days saw the pain level reach to crisis point as she struggled to cope. Copious amounts of phone calls attempting to reach doctors, specialists or anyone that would even listen went unheeded. There was nothing Anyone could do until the weekend was over - we were divested watching our little one go through this agonising time.

Through that weekend and watching her suffer so much - my question of WHY?? seemed also to go unanswered.Why didn't our Lord do anything to help us?

The two words that kept coming back to me was PATIENCE and TRUST.

BUT.... I didn't want patience I wanted ACTION and with a capital "A".

All over the Bible there is story after story of God's people suffering trials and tribulations - some of them got angry at God - others despaired - others whinged and gave up.

What we have to remember here is this - that all of us get to decide just how we are going to react when adversity, trials and tribulation come our way - we can easily become impatient and throw in the towel or we can depend on God that He will indeed answer but in His time.

Sometimes it feels like our hopes and  dreams are never going to be fulfilled. We had to wait over what seemed a very long weekend - some folk have to wait years and years and still their dreams seemingly never come to fruition.

Sometimes it's hard to understand why God doesn't allow things to happen straight away. My impatient attitude always seems to get in  the way and I find myself often despondent especially when I see my loved ones suffering.

What we need to do is to realise that whatever the issue we are facing we first need to bring it to Him in prayer.

We then need to trust Him. God has plans for your life. He knows everything about you.

We have to learn to be patient and wait on the Lord: His timing is perfect and he WILL answer us BUT in His time.

His answer to us may seem a long time in coming but every gift from God is worth waiting for.

Be encouraged: Wait patiently (not impatiently like me) trust in God and He will work things out.

God is so perfect and so is his timing - trust in Him to do what is right and good in your life.

I am reminded of a song by Melissa Greene called 'Jody's Song' - well worth the listen. Took me by surprise but pretty much spelt out how I was feeling.

BIG blessings to you all and may God's timing be perfect in your life as in mine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCFUD_PWjHc






Saturday, 4 October 2014

Thistles and weeds.


How are you at weeding? I'm hopeless - after five minutes I have given up completely!

Weeds are a pain - just when you think you have the garden looking reasonable, along they come with their baggage and just move right on in and before you know it they have taken over completely.

My sweet Mum-In-Law was the very best gardener I have ever seen - her garden was the epitome of neatness - the flowers were breathtaking and it was a delight to just walk around and take it all in. Did it come easy? NO way - she worked hard to achieve success and it showed - the result? Just beautiful!

With gardening you have to work at it - constantly removing weeds, pruning, mulching and watering - it never stops a constant cycle of work - but certainly worth it.

I sometimes look at our garden and just sigh... Yes sometimes it looks fantastic and so beautiful and I can thanks my long-suffering and patient wife for her diligence and eye for detail - it's hard enough for me just to mow the lawn!

Weeds need to be controlled and got rid of as soon as they appear - if you let them go you only court disaster.

This lesson can be brought into your life. Jesus told a story in the Bible about the sower who sowed his seeds and the types of soil in which the seeds landed.

One lot of seeds fell on pretty good ground actually - and they sprang to life nourished by the good soil and the cooling rains.

Unfortunately though the good soil and the cooling rains also helped to germinate the weeds and thorns and before long the good seed was consumed entirely by them - nothing left!

How can we take this on board and how can this age-old story help us in today's world of the 21st century? Actually it has never been more relevant than it is today.

Just like the seeds sown in the ground - so is our life. Whatever we focus our attention on will grow. If we focus on Christ and His amazing mercy and grace - His forgiveness and love for others that is what will take root in our hearts and grow.

On the other hand if we focus our attention of the things of the world - just like the weeds, they will grow and soon take over our lives and in abundance!.

Proverbs 23:7 says "our hearts bring forth fruit of itself" in other words that which we let take over our lives is exactly what will happen. So.... we have to be very careful and pay close attention to the 'seeds' we let establish in our lives.

Don't know about you but our days seem to be choc-a-bloc with 'things'. We don't, it seems just 'drift' from one thing to another we gallop and the utter busyness of the day can sometimes overwhelm us.

Our lives can be consumed by 'things' and it seems to me the more 'things' we have in our lives, the more we often want - we often crave for company and the 'good' life - hankering for more and the more we get the busier we find ourselves.

Time spent with God becomes less and less as we cultivate the 'weeds' in our lives and soon we are reaping what we have cultivated.

Our lives only reflect was has been cultivated and what has been given preference. Whatever we choose to fill our lives, that it exactly what will grow.

The 'weed' seeds in our lives can be planted whether intentionally or not and will soon take over if not rooted out.

Jesus said "The worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful" (Mark 4:19).

We can get so busy, even chasing after our kids, taking them here and there, in this sport or that, in this concert or that one. Music lessons, sporting clubs etc - our lives can be so full yet so empty!

In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul says "it is the very KNOWLEDGE of God that can demolish strongholds and makes every thought captive and obedient to Him"

We need to immerse ourselves in the words of Jesus - we need to accept Him into our lives fully. He needs to dominate our thoughts, our minds and our lives to avoid letting the 'weeds' take root and smother the beautiful gift of salvation that has been planted in us.

Sure we can still enjoy the life that God has given us, but let's not get to the stage where the sheer 'busyness' of life consumes us entirely. God HAS to have the pre-eminence over everything, our time, finances even our children and family.

To weed properly we must set aside our desires and busy way of life and put them in the right order, giving God first place in our lives.










Saturday, 20 September 2014

Obstacles, Dangers, Courage and Bears

Just been reading the tragic news of Lorna Weafer, who was fatally killed by a black bear in May this year.

The 36 year old was employed by Suncor and was an Instrument Technician working on an isolated job site near Fort McMurray, Alta, a town in Salt Lake, Utah, USA.

The horrible tragedy happened as she was making her way back from the wash room to the worksite. The attack was predatory and wasn't provoked at all - the bear dragged her off indifferent to the other workers trying to help.

My heart aches for this poor young woman and her family. Lorna's courage in the face of such ferocity was amazing as bravely she struggled for her life, but to no avail.

You know, life is so fragile - so tender.

Dangers seem to lurk everywhere, even some so unexpected that  they almost seem to be unbelievable and hard for us to get our minds around - like what happened to Lorna - tragedy out of no where with no explanation - just sadness and heart ache.

It seems our world has turned up side down of late - ISIL attacking Christians, public beheadings, the torture of children and women the list seems to go on forever.

Every news item just seems to get worse and the persecution of Christians seems to be taken for granted in the world at large. - the world we live and work in. The world we are part of and yet we aren't - our real home is with our Lord and Saviour.

My real heartfelt message to everyone, all of us, is to be ready - our lives seem to hang in the balance now more than ever before. None of us can know for sure how each day will pan out. Suddenly our lives could change forever, suddenly and without knowing.

We need to ensure that we all know where our heart and real love lies - we need to believe on Him - Acts 16:31 says in part ..."Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved..."

So what does it mean to "believe on Him?" - To believe on Jesus means to believe that He is the Son of God and that he is worthy to be loved, worshipped and obeyed.

The Bible not only stresses faith to believe but it also stresses love. We must give our heart to the Lord - our very being. Loving Jesus is not just having certain feelings; it is a definite choice of our will.

The heart of man can be cold and selfish and can so easily ignore the love that Jesus is offering, they choose not only to ignore but to reject it and soon forget it.

God does not take it lightly when we ignore His word, His invitation to come to Him or hinder others by putting obstacles in their way. This is serious business, I can't stress enough just how serious this is!

As believers we must also expect obstacles along our paths; the more we move out with God, the more attacks and more 'obstacles' we can expect.

As Paul stated in in 2 Timothy 3:12 "....In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"

We need to be ready, looking to Jesus every day. We need to stand fast and leave the results to Him.

We need to move forward in our differing ministries and God-given gifts, while trusting God to make a way and remove obstacles.

Are you ready?