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.

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?

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Mercy, Grace and Truth

John 1: 16-17 tells us "...and of His fullness we have all received" and again that "Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ"

Pretty astounding when  you think about it that WE HAVE RECEIVED HIS (JESUS') FULLNESS.

The very completeness of Jesus has been transplanted to us when we become born again in Him.

The very fact we have now become and have received the full nature of Jesus often makes me stand amazed at this almost incomprehensible gift!

Jesus Christ is in us and we are in Him - we have the VERY 'fullness' of Christ - WOW! if we can just grasp that truth - we no longer have to live defeated and guilt-ridden lives.

Many Christians go through life thinking "when we get to heaven we will THEN be like Jesus but right now we live in this world - struggling with sin forgiven by God". They feel they can't possibly be like Jesus but in actual fact - we have Jesus living in us - amazing as it sounds!

In lots of ways 'waiting to get to heaven to be like Jesus' can often lead us to defeat and open to guilt and failure.

No! we will never be perfect while we are here on earth BUT with Jesus living in us and us living in Him we have unbridled power to overcome sin at its very root in our lives - we certainly can't do that on our own.

Jesus has not only forgiven us but has also made us His sons and daughters - giving us freely His VERY nature and His DIVINE nature at that - NOW that is truly EXTRAORDINARY!!!

Yes we are forgiven sinners - right now here on earth. We are going to spend eternity with Jesus - BUT amazingly Jesus is living in us right now and has been the very moment we became one with Him and we were born anew.

Because He lives in us and we in Him - His nature is imparted to us. We no longer live for ourselves He, Jesus, actually lives through us!

Do you wrestle with feelings of guilt or unworthiness? Have you made mistakes that you can't seem to recover from? Are there blemishes on your record that won't go away, no matter how hard you try to erase them? Have you done things that people won't forgive?

Think, just for a moment, what Jesus did for you on that cross. He took your guilt, your shame. your mistakes and your blemishes on Himself and destroyed them forever! WOW!!!

Then.... He promised you His divine Nature to live in you while you are here on earth! - Don't know about you but that blows my mind.

If you have given your life to Jesus, in God's eyes you are perfect, spotless - WHY? Because He looks at you and sees Jesus because Jesus is living in you right here, right now.

Don't lead a defeated life here, thinking that you can't be like Jesus until you get to Heaven. Jesus has imparted to His own an extraordinary gift. The gift of Himself. Once we have realised that we can live extraordinary lives while we live on earth, nothing is beyond us.

No sin is too big for us to overcome because it has already been defeated by He who resides in us - JESUS!

Rest on His promise and the purity and forgiveness that He has given you.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Revealed: letting the cat out of the bag

Just reading a book by John Bevere called EXTRAORDINARY. It has certainly been a journey and an eye-opening one at that.

In His book John maintains that we as humans have three images our "projected' image, our "perceived" image and of course our "actual" image.

Must admit I took a bit of a gulp when I read that because his words hit their mark with me straight away. - I would just like to share some of the things he wrote and my own thoughts on this vital message of how God really 'sees' us.

John goes on further to say that your 'perceived' image is how others see you - your 'projected' image is how you desire others to see and your 'actual' image is who you really are.

This really got me thinking - how often do we live in a world of 'projected' images - living to please others - going to and behaving in a manner that suits the occasion - like going to church and putting on your 'spiritual' face, talking in the 'spiritual' way with all the 'spiritual' cliche's.

If you were raised in Sunday School like I was - you know all the 'right' things to say to rise to almost any situation you are put into when it comes to holding your own in a 'religious' sort of way. You can carry on a discussion in a Bible study or lead a group, pray in church and do copious amounts of Bible reading with the best of them. BUT...

Where does that actually leave you in the "actual image' department?

Take Jesus for example (and you couldn't get a better one) - His 'perceived' image was atrocious - He was slandered, mocked, abused, labelled as a blasphemer and even accused of being demon possessed. He had hardly any friends and those who were, abandoned him quick enough. BUT His 'actual' image was altogether different.

In Hebrews we are told that He is the express image of the Father. So while humans saw their 'perceived' image of Jesus  - God saw His "actual" image. And the "actual" image of us - it what God sees too!

Our "perceived" image does not mean a thing to God - we can look as good as we can and go to all the right places. We can meet all the right people and say all the right things but God sees who we really are.

Jesus was the same with the people He met on a daily basis as He was the Father - can we say that??? Would God be welcome to share every thought we have and every conversation?

Maybe you can see now why I took that BIG gulp after reading just a few pages of John's book.

Jesus didn't try to boost his reputation - he didn't try to get the accolades and win applause by the crowds - he actually hid himself away on many occasions. He wasn't interested in the approval of mankind.

Jesus only cared about what was important to the Father God - and we should imitate Jesus in that way.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Treasure, Triumph and Tragedy

He was a man possessed!

He was more than possessed, he was also obsessed - obsessed about a certain treasure - he knew existed and he knew he would have to find!!

He had read about it, dreamt about it, researched it endlessly - he knew the story inside out - buried deep in the steep mountainside of a raging river embankment near the Guaira falls smack bang on the Brazil- Paraguay border.

It was gold and precious stones - hidden originally by the Chaco Indians, the first inhabitants of Paraguay. The Chacos had hidden their treasures when they had been overtaken by the Spanish Conquistadors early in the 16th Century.

He knew the gold existed, many others had tried and failed - the very place where the gold was hidden was precarious to say the least - the Spanish knew about it and had tried various times over the centuries but had failed - the treasure moved in the myths and legends of times BUT he KNEW it existed - he had to get that treasure.

The treasure (if it existed) would be worth and veritable fortune on today's market BUT it was more than money that drove him on - his obsession was unquenchable - HE would go.

He expertly planned his trip. His equipment, was slowly starting to take shape. The maps of the area where he figured would most likely be the hiding place were read and read again until he practically knew each and every crevice, cave and hiding place on the walls of the treacherous falls.

The time had finally come! flying over Brazil and then Paraguay he could hardly contain his excitement, then the falls - he could see them - he could actually see them - but getting there?

He had pre-hired a scout and a guide to take him to the very spot he knew would hold the treasure.

Years in the planning and preparation were finally coming to fruition. The time had finally come to prove to himself and the world that the Chaco treasure was real.

Years in the planning and only a six month visa to find the treasure and get out - getting the visa was hard enough and it would be impossible to extend it so six months was it - that was all he had.

Arriving in Paraguay he wasted no time, contacted the guide, climbing experts and the porters, found the transportation, secured his special licence and he was off - He was so close he could practically 'taste' success.

The falls were breathtaking, magnificent, heart-stopping and at the same time alarming, intimidating and ever so scary!

All the walls were scraggy and slippery wet, hiding 100 of caves, nooks and crannies - seemingly impossible to descend at all. The noise of the falls was a crescendo of crashing water, shattering anything that came in its way. The boiling water at the foot of the drop was just a mass of turbulence - no-one and nothing could survive falling in there.

His rappelling skills were going to be put to the test here but again he wasted no time - the climbing experts set the ropes and pulleys, the porters and guides set up camp as he climbed into his safety gear and the first expedition was off.

The noise was deafening - his body was already at breaking point as he tentatively dropped over the edge - and so his exploration began.

One day melded into another - His search seem endless - he was physically and mentally exhausted. His porters left - His guide abandoned him and yet he continued - the climbing experts stayed with him, their techniques pushed to their limits as he kept going on his seemingly impossible quest.

Week after week, then month after month, he methodically explored every crevice, every cave. His money and the visa were quickly running out and so it was that almost at the end of his time he once more dragged himself to the edge of the crevasse and dropped over the edge - "Just one more time" he said to himself.

Ahead of him was a huge bolder sticking out of the wall of the canyon and he had to dodge around it struggling with the ropes as he did so. He was almost past the rock when he noticed a small, almost insignificant crevice - he stared, he backtracked with the tangled rope and swung himself into this hidden little nook far above the raging water.

The hidden little nook behind this huge bolder that had tangled his rope in the first place turned out to be a small, dank, dark cave - his flashlight on he started to explore, his hands searched the walls, pulling back chunks of loose rock. He had almost given up when his eyes caught sight of a small yet obvious alter - could it be??

Above the alter was what looked like a smooth rock - slimy and dank like the rest but somehow different. He quickly tugged at the stone and the slimy surface gave way to shiny gold - he was trembling in unbelief could it be? Could it be?

The rock gave way in his hands and he found himself holding  the image of a god around two ft long and quite heavy - it was obviously gold from what he could make out in the fading light. The sounds from outside came to his attention - the crashing water - the dank smell of the cave - the spray - light was fading fast he had to make a move - what else lay in this cave?

Two days to go before he had to leave Paraguay - two days?? - He made a decision - he wouldn't let go of this - he had to have it - he would come back tomorrow before he left.

Quickly he made his way out of the cave to the ropes and pulley - he signalled to the rappelling crew who were getting anxious due to the failing light. But one rope was hopelessly tangled around the bolder at the mouth of the cave. His Transmitter/Receiver on his helmet crackled and the voice said "We can do this with one rope but you will have to use both hands."

That would mean dropping the idol or leaving it in the cave - He couldn't!! "NOOOO" he screamed I can't leave this now! I can do this he said and holding the idol under one arm and holding the untangled rope with one hand he told the rappelling crew to pull him up.

They pleaded with him to drop whatever he was holding as his rescue depended on him holding the rope with two hands to avoid the 'swing effect'. He couldn't do it - he had waited too long, worked too hard to lose it now.

The rope tightened - he felt the tug as he was lifted - the extra weight of the idol and the swing effect due to the imbalance sent him wide over the canyon - he felt his hand slip slightly - "let go of whatever you are holding and use both hands" came the directive. NO came the reply as he slipped and screaming fell to his death in the rapids below.

His utter determination to hang on to that idol is absolutely nothing compared to the vice-like grip we put on life.

If you think that was a pretty tough - why didn't he just let go? Or put the idol away until it was safer? Then re-think your own life - I know I did.

Try prying your own fingers away from YOUR earthly treasures. Try taking a superannuation package away from a retiree or a wardrobe full of the latest fashion from your teenage daughter.

The way we clutch at our possessions and our bank accounts we would think that we couldn't possibly survive without all of these material things.

Paul spells it out pretty plainly in 1 Timothy 6: 9-12 "That the root of all kinds of evil is love of money and many who have desired it have wandered from the faith and opened themselves up to many griefs."

But it is more than money - we hang on to all sorts of 'toys' in our lives - anything that comes between us and God is our 'idol'. When you think about it our idols come in all sorts of various forms - pride, sex, self-centredness, greed, putting others in God's place - even gluttony, the love of food can become our idol.

Our forthright and obvious love of possessions stand out in the 'idol' category, and we can so cleverly make them so important in our own eyes. Ultimately all 'idols' whatever shape or form they come in is rebellion against God. Is it any wonder that God hates them?

We can hang on to our 'toys' but we will alienate ourselves from our Lord and God and alienation eventually spells eternal separation.

So.... How are you at clinging to your earthly possessions? or... HOW am I??? OUCH!!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Little Miss Giggles

Luke 18:27

Jesus replied, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."

Can the impossible happen?  Short answer Yes - I know for a fact it can - I would have thought it was impossible for me to change - In fact I reckon I got to the stage where I didn't want to change I was happy, or so I thought, with my life until BAM! God changed me - I can't believe how I used to be.

Was I really like that and loving it?

When you read the Bible there are heaps of impossibilities happening - most of them mind blowing.

Although the biggest impossibilities happen in the lives of ordinary human beings I'd reckon - lives changed dramatically and permanently by the Spirit of God. Things that cannot be explained and quite frankly a bit hard to explain to the world at large out there.

Consider the case of Sarai who was to have her named changed to Sarah - an amazing lady of exceptional beauty, wealth, poise, self-assurance and grace.

Married to her half brother Abram (wouldn't happen today) Sarai was wealthy in the eyes of the world - beauty and wealth couldn't hide the fact that she was sad because she couldn't have children.

She would have been well into her sixties by the time Abram was called by God to 'go to the land flowing with milk and honey' the promised land that was later to become the home of the 'chosen' people of God - Abram and Sarai's descendants.

She was in her 'golden years' you could say and God had promised her a son - she is excited - she plans - she waits and waits and waits - still no son.

Decades pass so Sarai decides to take things into her own hands - after all it's impossible now for her to conceive - she is well into her eighties! She convinces Abram that time has run out!  it's impossible now. So she gives her maid Hagar to Abram and Hagar bears Ishmael and the rest is history.

We leap ahead fourteen long years, Ishmael has grown and he and his Mum are pretty entrenched into the family - Ishmael is Abram's heir, Ishmael MUST be the promised child of God BUT.... God had other ideas.

The amazing and impossible happens - God pays them a visit and tells them to get ready for a baby bundle, start choosing boy's names because this time next year you and Sarai will be bouncing a baby boy on your bony old knees! IMPOSSIBLE!

Sarai was 99 years old and Abram 100 -  impossible! - what do they do? - they laugh at the lunacy of it all. They laugh because it is just too good to be true and I guess they laugh because it JUST MIGHT happen!

Sarai laughed into her bony wrinkled hands her shoulders shaking with laughter at the very thought of bearing a child at her age. Hilarious on one hand, fear on the other, hilarity doubling her over turns to nervous giggles of apprehension at the very might and in the very presence of Creator God.

God works at accomplishing the absurd, the impossible, the unbelievable and sure enough by the time the year is ended, Sarai and Abram are changed forever - God even changed their names to Sarah (Mother) and Abraham (The Father of a multitude).

Their names aren't the only things God changed in that miraculous year, He changed their minds, their faith and how they looked at the impossible. He also changed Sarah's definition of trust in God - She trusted Him from then on - In His time not hers.

We so easily jump ahead of God - we tire of waiting on Him - how many times have we taken things into our own hands just like Sarai did those thousands of years ago, often with disastrous consequences.

Yes our God is a God of miracles - a God of the impossible. We can read about them all scattered throughout the Bible - from Sarai to Paul's amazing and impossible conversion.

What is impossible for man is possible only through God - He needs our complete surrender. All around us in this world is sin, sorrow, war and problems all of which are Satan's domain - BUT God is the God of the impossible - He is still on His throne, doing the impossible, changing people's lives and changing them for good.

If we surrender to God completely then like Abraham and Sarah we will become strong in faith, giving glory to God, because we trust in His amazing and often impossible ways.