Exercising

Have you ever had a painful past memory used as a significant identifier about you?

 

Recently I met up with someone who introduced me in this way.

 

No mention of the gazillion other things she knew about me.

 

For a moment I was speechless. Digesting what had been said and how it hurt.

 

An initial response could have been to tell the person off.

How dare she bring up something about me from decades ago?

 

Surely she would have some compassion to know how cruel her words were.

I guess not. The speaker didn’t show anything in her eyes except matter-of-factly identifying me to the other person.

 

The other person didn’t know me, and wasn’t really interested in getting to know me, it is unlikely I will ever see her again.

 

As I reflect now, away from the situation, I wonder why I responded as I did.

 

I let her off. A poker player's face was mine – nothing showed.

 

Was it just the peace maker in me?

Or was it more about not wanting to pass on pain?

 

This is what I believe, information I know about another isn’t my information to share. I need permission to retell someone else’s story.

 

I am thankful I got to exercise my self-control that day.

 

In the current climate of debate raging on social media I wonder if perhaps it isn’t best we return to days gone by where some things are better left unsaid. For us to learn once again to keep some opinions to ourselves and not belittle the opinions of others if they disagree with our own.

 

Freedom of speech isn’t permission to be reckless with our words.

 

My challenge is this…

 

Do you have something to say? Say it without hurting others and don’t share someone else's story without permission.

 

Get your active wear on and exercise your self-control.

 

Imagine if we did! 



The comparison game...

Have you ever measured yourself up against someone else?

Sure you have, everyone does at some point.

Jealousy, admiration or to boost one's self esteem are major components of the comparison game.

 

I don't like to play.

It really is a game without any winners.

Yet it is a game played over and over again.

Sometimes we play unwittingly, like trying to justify why a certain 'thing' has occured in your life or the life of a family member.

Usually something of an embarrassment.

 

Recently I heard a mother describing one of her children as the 'black sheep', because they didn't fit into the achieving category of life, or the 'normal' lifestyle expected. Clearly this mother felt the need to justify her offspring's life choices. 

Sadly this is also a component of the comparison game, feeling the need to justify.

 

But this is what I am learning...

 

In the future I want to make sure I am more careful with my words. 

 

From now on I'm going to look at others with rose coloured glasses on - because everyone is pushing their own barrow in life.

Some people have a heavy load in their barrow and I want to see them in a good light, for who they are on their journey through this myriad of rough and smooth patches we call the road of life. 

 

Each of us unique, each of us with our joys and sorrows. 

 

My journey is developing my character, making me into me with each event, situation and each day. 

 

Can I encourage you to put your rose coloured glasses on?

Just so you can see others in a different light.  

 

And  with seeing another's load maybe we can take  the opportunity to lighten it for them if we can.

 

Can I also encourage you not to feel the need to justify your position or situation?

Just be you, on your journey doing the best you can.

 

Let's be people who are nice to be around because we don't compare.

 

I bought a couple of necklaces last week for two preciously loved girls in my family.

The tag decoration says LOVED. 

 

I believe you and I are dearly loved by God, the creator of this world and everything in it.

 

I choose to love and know I am loved!

 

I choose not to play the comparison game!

 

What about you?



No Voice - literally!

I have lots of opinions on many subjects but have discovered along the road trip of life, it is best to keep some things to myself.

 

Right now, though, I would love to take the opportunity to say something, but my voice just isn’t there. Laryngitis has taken my ability to enthral others with my words.

 

Ah, but the written word is always there for me with my very own website….

 

Whilst lazing around with my sore throat affliction, I may have been looking at shoes online, (well I was...but didn't make any purchases - really!!) and up popped ‘Joy is a choice’ with one particular brand of shoe.

 

What a true statement!

 

Everyday so many things could ruffle our feathers – or not!

That phonecall, that shop assistant or whatever else tried to wreck the day.

 

We have ideas and plans of how things should work out and sometimes they just don’t.

 

But, as the shoe brand reminded me, in joy stealer moments – Joy is a choice, I choose Joy.

 

What about you?



Birthday ramblings....

So I've turned 55!

 

I do believe some self assessment is appropriate for this birthday number.....

 

A lot of things happen in 55 years.

Being a safe, steady sort of person can look a bit boring with a backward glance.

Going out on a limb or throwing caution to the wind (two lovely cliches I favour) has never been my style.

 

Yet, my preference, always to be well planned and organised, has been challenged.

 

Perhaps, being late, as to enjoy some spur of the moment thing on the journey, would have added more colour or depth to the fabric of me.

 

Shall my reflection be one of regret?

 

No! 

 

There are times, like us all, I would change, if given the chance.  

 

However, largely I am me, shaped by the steadiness of being sensible and colouring inside the lines of life.

The core of me is safe and steady, guess God built me that way, so I honestly think only a little tweaking would be deemed necessary in my backward glance of me.

 

 

The challenge this reflection has given me, is to look to the future.

How can I grow, what direction do I now need to take?

 

 

 

I believe now it is the time to be a little giddy, or maybe less sensible, steady and safe.

 

(Notice there is no mention of being reckless or adventurous...two adjectives not likely to be linked with my name!)

 

I am reminded of Ruth in the Bible.

 

The picture I have of her is a steady, safe kind of girl.  

Till she was challenged to grow in a different way.  

 

Ruth hitched up her belongings - few as a widow's belongings would have been, threw them in with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and took a road trip to Bethlehem.

 

She could have taken the safe and sensible option, stayed in her own land, with her own people and gods.

 

One moment changed her life forever.

Ruth's giddy moment took her into the books of the Bible, she became part of Jesus ancestry.

 

No one will probably notice my giddy moments, like Ruth's notable life change, but my heart and mind will know I am traveling a less sensible road.

 

Now don't worry, I'm not about to dye my hair purple, my intentions are more in line with taking a spur of the moment option.

 

Buying the item now, instead of thinking about it for a week, only to find said item has gone!

 

Spending time lolly-gagging about, instead of making sure the ironing is done....you know that  kind of outrageous stuff a safe and steady kind of girl like me does.

 

 

But just in case my moments do become quite giddy, keep an eye out for me, perhaps I will splash some of my giddiness on you - hope so!

 

Oh yes .....and I am going to eat more hot chips!



The Sisters....

Sometimes you meet up with girlfriends that quickly enter into the inner chambers of your heart.

 

 

 

They become more than girlfriends - they become better than sisters for the journey of life.

 

Some sisters are for a particular part of life's journey and others, life long travelling companions.

Unconditional love is one of the keys to these relationships, along with forgiveness and patience, with the promise of prayers.

 

We all have our ugly side, which is usually well hidden and reserved for home use only.  True sisters can see this part of us and love us anyway. 

 

Couple of my sisters and I spent some hours together recently.

We visited a Monster Garage Sale - which was a fundraiser.

 

We ran into plenty of girlfriends of past times to chat with and then we did one of our favourite things to do together....TALK!

At 'our' coffee shop we shared a bowl of hot chippies and some cuppas.

 

We can debate the hot topics of the world - and graciously not agree with each other.

 

Laugh outrageously at ourselves.

 

Share the rough surface of road we have travelled on since our last catch up.

 

Listen with our hearts

 

Speak the truth in love.

 

Encourage.

 

Bless.

 

 

I am truly blessed to have a host of sisters to share the journey of life with.

 

Blessed to love

and to be loved.

 

Do you have sisters in your life?

 

Would you like some?

 

So why not become a sister?

 

.....commit yourself to praying for a girlfriend.

.....send her a card/email/sms/invite to coffee.

 

Splash out some love and watch how it returns to you

 

There are happy times ahead for you girlfriends as you become sisters!



The Jesus Factor

Some television shows suck you in, don't they?

 

I'm not really savvy when it comes to the latest music, so the watching of X Factor is an education and as well as entertainment for me.

 

 

Along with many other Australians I sit back on the lounge and judge the contestants (probably a little too harshly at times).  If I miss a week it isn't really a bother, but I do like to find out who the winner is.

 

Apparently look + style + vocals + personality = the X Factor. 

 

The series at church recently was a look at the life of Joseph, 'Not by Chance'.

 

Each week has been interesting as Matthew discussed a little more of Joseph's life. I was quite struck when Matt said Joseph had the Jesus Factor, not the X Factor, like I have described, but the Jesus Factor.

 

Matthew is absolutely right.  By the time we read about the Joseph of Genesis chapter fifty, we find a wise + mature + loving + merciful man.  A man who clearly has the Jesus Factor.

 

Joseph, after an interesting childhood, as father's favourite and despised by his brothers, ended up in prison because of the lies told about him.

 

As in other times in his life, Joseph must have been wondering, like I often do, what was God doing?

 

Joseph was the favored one, with big, God given dreams, how could he wind up in prison? 

 

How were those dreams ever going to come about?

 

But, as Matthew said, the sovereign hidden hand of God was at work for good purposes.

 

Joseph's character was being built.

 

Insert an 'Ah ha' moment here for me.

 

I know this story, I've told it on many occaisions....one Sunday the closing song was 'It is well with my soul', and after my Ah ha moment, I was able to sing with much gusto!

 

Through Matthew's message God had lifted my drooping shoulders and reminded me, He is at work in unseen ways to bring about His good purposes in my life and in the lives of all who follow Him.

 

Once again the Lord put a calling on my life. And with Joseph's life story fresh in my mind, I am compelled to seek after the Jesus Factor.



All things bright and beautiful

Ecclesiastes 3 verse 11

God has made everything beautiful in its time

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men

Yet they cannot fathom what He has done from beginning to end.

 

As we wade through the difficulties of life, we sometimes question what God is up to. 

We consider some of the choices He makes for us, in this crazy journey of life, to be wrong and or unfair.

 

At times, it sure doesn't look like things are being made beautiful from where we are standing.

 

So daily I need to hang on to the hope of God’s view on my life, being a better view than the one I have.

 

It is true, we ‘cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end’.

 

 

Eternity is set in our hearts.

 

Everyone wants to go to heaven, or somewhere, to ‘look down’ on those who are left.

 

We love to think of heaven being that great place you go to be reunited with family and be with your 'mates'. 

 

And yet it is difficult to bring up how people can be sure of their eternity being with God in heaven, few want to enter into a conversation on this topic. Preference being to leave the subject alone and have a vague hope.

 

Why is religion a taboo topic?  People are either passionate or unbelieving.

 

And often people judge God on what they see in me, Jesus follower.

 

They see my sin, my inconsistencies and take it out on God.

 

 

At the end of each day, as I pray, I think about how I spoke, worked, shopped and lived before those who don’t follow Jesus. 

 

Did anyone see how good God is to me? 

 

Did people feel loved because I was with them today?

 

Did they see Jesus at all in me?  Just a smidge or a hint?

 

 

As I turn my eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face and let the things of this world grow dim, I pray this will be the time Jesus will shine in me

 

...and we will see God does make all things beautiful in its time!



Ten years old

My friend’s daughter turned ten last March.

This ten year old is a cute little blonde girl, with happiness sparkling out of her eyes. 

Living in a faraway land, gathering life experiences few of us will ever know.  South Sudan is their home for now, as this family follow the calling on their hearts to minister to those who have much need for hope and healing.

From the photos on Facebook, I see a little ten year old girl looking so care-free and unaware of life’s complexities.       

 

I think back to when I was ten, carefree and unaware too.

Immediately springing to my mind, is when I was in fourth class; getting 100% in a spelling test…..I can’t remember if I ever managed a perfect score in any other exam in my life, but this was an exciting achievement when I was ten.

 

I broke my arm playing Netball, when I was ten; I haven’t ever broken any other bones since.

My bedroom had never been carpeted until I was ten; I remember being propped up in bed with my sling and cast, the very next day my bedroom was transformed with the luxurious feel of carpet under my feet.

 

I used to ride my pushbike around the streets of an afternoon, shot baskets in the school across the road, on the weekend.  Mum let me cook my first cake.  Dad and I watched World Championship Wrestling together on a Sunday afternoon.

 

Life was simple, uncomplicated.

How I wish I could find that place again.

 

Why does my mind get overloaded?  With cares that make life complicated. 

 

These past three days we have travelled to a little country town, Merriwa.

It was uncomplicated. 

Biggest decision was when and where to have coffee, lunch, dinner.

It was good letting the beauty of the countryside pass by, nothingness in my mind.

 

I want to bring uncomplicated back into my life.

I know I won’t be taking off on a pushbike and riding around the streets, or shooting baskets at the local school to resume the lack of complexities in my life.

Not being ten years old, brings responsibility, things I have to do, but being away for these few short days has given me hope I can let go of complicating things, with deciding not to question ‘why’ and getting on with ‘what now’ instead.

 

The apostle Paul encourages (Philippians chapter three verses 12-14) pressing on, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, eternal life.  

 

And in the meantime, till eternal life, I am going to practice not complicating my life with the wonderings of why.  I’m aiming for my thoughts to be centred on ‘what now’, thinking on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things.



Love again....

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging symbol"

 

How often I have read 1 Corinthians 13.

The chapter on love and, oh how I would hope to really understand it this time, as I see it with the eyes of my heart.

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, trying to get them to see they were too wrapped up in themselves, in their self-centredness and their pride, in their ministry. They had lost sight of love....God's love for them and sharing that love with those around them.

 

Wow!  Those crazy Corinthians, so blind!

 

Umm....hang on a minute, sounds a bit like modern day me!  (and maybe you?)

 

If I have received God's great gift of love, surely it will cause me to be selfless and kind, believing the

best about others, hoping for the best and enduring things others wouldn't.

 

 

But if that settling, calming love isn't dwelling deeply in me....I need to seek after it.

 

It might mean putting some things aside - till I find it

 

It might mean stepping down or stepping back - till I find it

 

Could I?

 

I think if I took 1 Corinthians 13 seriously it could change me radically!

 

Then the places where I spend my time....at home, work, church, everywhere I am would change too......

 

There the deep dwelling selfless love of Christ would change the world...one person at a time starting with me.



K F C

Who would have thought K F C was in the Bible long before the Colonel thought of frying his chicken!

 

Check it out for yourself - Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17 - 32.

 

Every form of media tells us how to fix up our outside but it is the Bible where we find out how to fix up our inside.

 

The Apostle Paul points out a few blemishes the Christians in Ephesus needed to work on and they apply to us too.

 

Paul suggests we have to put off the old stuff before getting started on something new in our lives.

 

And that makes great sense doesn't it?

 

Imagine you and I getting ready to go out somewhere fancy.

 

Would we put on our 'good' clothes before taking off our other clothes?

Would we put on our 'good' clothes without having a shower, before going to our fancy venue?

 

Absolutely not!

 

My Bible titles this passage 'Putting on the New Man'.

 

The best place to start when peeling off the old me is with prayer.  

Have you ever notice how quickly God answers the prayer "Lord is there anything you want me to change?"

It doesn't take God long to bring those things before us....in a message at church, from our Bible readings, and then the Holy Spirit is quick convict us.

 

Paul has put an interesting list together in Ephesians for us to think about.

 

It starts off with the blemish of Lying.

My commentary says, more than just telling a fib.  It's even exaggerating and fabricating stories to make us look better in the retelling of an event or situation.

I wrestle with this one because I can tell a good story and sometimes the temptation to fabricate and exaggerate is very hard to ignore.

But the Bible has it here in black and white - Speak the truth.

 

Paul goes on with his list, Be angry but don't sin.

Unselfish anger to do with moral injustice has a place. Anger in the form of "My way or the highway" attitude, accompanied with brutal remarks, like: I hate you, should have no place in the Christians life.

Even righteous anger has a timeframe, so the Bible says, 'sundown' being the perfect time to let go of anger.

Why? Because anger can led to bitterness (righteous anger or not), and this can become harmful for the Christian, once it starts to take hold.

 

Well Don't Steal is pretty self-explanatory, but the 'rider' Paul adds here is interesting....Work for what you need.

No one actually owes us anything, thinking we deserve certain things can cause us to have the wrong attitude and put boundaries and strings around what we do receive.

Paul wants us to be free to pass on what we do have to others - to hold loosely onto things.

 

Now this next blemish on Paul's list is a tricky one.

Don't let any unwholesome corrupt talk come out of your mouth.

Hmmm my commentary says:

Foul language of any sort should never pass a Christian's lips because it is totally out of character with the Christian's new life in Christ.

Who takes that seriously these days?

Well, I am a very black and white girl....I take it just as seriously today as I did when I read it as a young Christian many hears ago.

A friend of mine recently said "What you never swear?  You never use any bad language, even when no one is around?"

But just as this passage says further on, lets not grieve the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the seal on my heart for salvation, so I'm never by myself....God is always there to hear what is said in secret.

And besides this passage encourages us to say things that are uplifting.  

If you wouldn't say it in front of God, your grandmother or little children....hmmm don't say it!

 

Paul quickly runs through a couple of other blemishes, without much comment, but it makes them no less important to shed before we clothe ourselves in fresh clean robes.

Bitterness, rage, anger (again), brawling, slander and malice.

All blemishes usually brought out in an effort to make others look bad and ourselves look good, a trait we learn at a young age.

As children we learn quickly to point out the errors in our siblings, to take the heat off ourselves!  And it works a treat, so we employ this strategy many times over in life.

 

Paul doesn't leave us helpless on how to get rid of these blemishes and get into some clean fresh robes, to wear to glorify God.

 

And this is where the K F C  comes in...

 

Paul says:

Be KIND and COMPASSIONATE, FORGIVING just as Christ forgave us.

 

Kind 

Forgiving

Compassionate.....three little words to make the difference in our lives as we follow Jesus.

 

How does anyone know we love them?

We tell them, do things for them (we know they'll like) and forgive them the wrongs they do against us.

 

If I want to randomly show my boys (my darling husband and favourite son.....I know I only have one child and he is my favourite) some love,  I buy them a little something.  

 

How do we show God we love Him?

 

By loving others with KINDNESS FORGIVENESS and COMPASSION

 

Beautiful clean robes for us to wear

And when we wear them prayerfully each day, we are able to leave our shabby familiar old ways behind....

And be the 'New Man', for everyday till God calls us home.



Love God-love others....

 

 

Do you ever feel 'life' sneaks in between you and God?

 

Blocking out the glorious light of Jesus.

 

Then a crisis comes and all the business of life falls away and you suddenly find your eyes scanning the horizon.

You look up and past life, and the revelation of fixing your eyes on Jesus comes afresh.

 

Fresh as it was the first time,

 

Giving hope

 

Overcoming the despair

 

Bringing comfort

 

Producing gratitude,

 

And a belief you can get through the dark valley of your crisis.

 

Trusting the pain you experience isn't wasted but part of the way to the future you.

 

The you with whom God is well pleased.

 

The you with strengthened shoulders - not drooping encumbered shoulders.

 

The you with the revelation and resolve to love God and love others.

 

Matthew 22 v 37-40 says

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.

This the first and great commandment and the second is like it; You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets."

 

As I think about loving God and loving others, I am quite overwhelmed at the immensity of this.

 

It is a moment by moment life choice.

To see everything through my loving God's abundant love filter.

So God is in the gap between life and me.

 

 

Jesus reminds us in John 13 verses 34-35, the love He has for us is to be passed around and by doing this people will know we belong to Him.

 

I began my journey following Jesus a long time ago, but in recent weeks I feel God calling me to use His love filter in a bigger way, not as an add on at times but for all circumstances, all situations.

 

I'll keep you posted on how it is going......

 

 

 

 



Whatever happened?

Steve Taylor, a renowned singer songwriter from the '80's asked: Whatever happened to sin?

 

Has the world gone mad or is it just me - everything that used to be sin now seems to be ok'd, justified and tolerated.

 

Recently sitting on the sidelines of the hot potato debate on tattoos, I was amazed at how many people quoted the old testament view, but then went on to say

'it's just the old testament and we live under grace now'.

 

So why do we still have the old testament? Is it just a bit of history?  Surely there must some relevance?

 

An insight on what God thinks about things maybe?  God's thoughts we can dismiss because we live under grace now and besides some things are 'just' a personal thing?

 

Well then, living under grace - what does it really mean?

 

In Romans 6 the apostle Paul asks about sin and grace:  "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"

 

The answer he gives "By no means" 

 

Does living under grace give me a free ticket to do 'whatever' and then repent?

 

By no means.

 

Living under grace is total surrender to living for God, sacrificing what might be popular, the 'in' thing (how quickly fads and fashions change anyway) and living to glorify God.  

 

Many of the writers in the New Testament repeatedly say "Be holy for I am holy".....

 

What on Monday?

 

What when I'm not with my church friends?  

 

What when everyone else is getting smashed?

 

What when everyone else is going to see a movie I know God wouldn't enjoy?  

 

What no swearing my head off because I am mad and need to let off some steam?

 

It appears so.

 

Paul writes about it in Colossians chapter three. 'Rules for Holy Living' is the chapter's title in my Bible.  

 

'Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature' - check out the L O N G list of things to kill off in our lives!

 

And Paul writes over and over again about living as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved.

 

In Ephesians chapter four, Paul reminds us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God - "With whom you were sealed for the day of redemption".

 

Do we take sin seriously enough?

 

Maybe we don't worry much about grieving the Holy Spirit.

 

God thinks it is important otherwise He wouldn't have inspired Paul and other New Testament writers to keep mentioning it.

 

Really it is hard to eradicate sin from our lives.

 

It's a daily battle.

 

But let's not give up.

 

Let's not grieve the Holy Spirit.

 

Let's be bold enough to ask God  this from Psalm 139 v 23-24 (and as the old hymn goes):

 

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;

 

Test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting".



That blind guy...

I couldn't help myself recently.

 

I had to ask God the why question. (Through tears, disappointment and discouragement)

 

Knowing there is no answer - I had to ask it anyway.

 

But God did answer me.

 

He reminded me of the blind guy in John 9.

 

The disciples ask Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him."

 

These verses made me think of my own difficulties - why is God allowing me to walk thru the valley of the shadow of death? 

 

Like I said to God,

 

I would have scheduled in some green pasture R & R for me before now,

 

but no,

the valley's depth seems to be ever increasing

                                                                       .....and then I read,

 

the blind guy was blind so God could reveal His good works,

 

in His good time.

 

So what does that mean for me?

 

PEACE!

 

TRUST!

 

God has got it - the difficulties.

God has got it - the way forward.

God has got it- the timing....beginning to end.

 

And the peace has come......even while still in the valley.



Winning

I discovered something about myself whilst standing on the Netball court.

 

 

I don't like to lose.

 

Although, I spent a lot of time telling myself and everyone else, I was only playing to help out....

fill the spot so a team could be formed...

and because my husband was the Sport's Centre manager and he dobbed me in!

 

But I really enjoyed the winning part.

 

At half time on the first night I told Paul to just call the funeral parlour to come and get me

....don't bother the Ambo's I'm not going to make it.  

But as you can see I pulled through and made it to the end of the match.

 

My back, legs, arms and just about every other part of me, was aching something chronic each week.

But I have to say by the end of the competition, I was pulling up OK for a 50 year old!  

And that tiny little part of me that wanted to give up after the first game left.

...and surprisingly the will to win was well and truly established!

 

The other part of Netball I really enjoyed was being part of a team

....working together and enjoying each others company each week.  

Margaret, Gina and Kylie became friends, not just the team I joined reluctantly.

 

Those Netball court feelings made me think about my will to win the race of faith.

 

Will I be like the apostle Paul and be able to say:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4 v 7.

That's my aim!  

 

What about you?  

 

Want to be on the same team as me in this race toward eternal life?

 

....its not a competition though, this race is about companionship.



God is good all the time

Last week one of the Pastors at our church finished off a series with a great message...

 

God is good all the time.

 

But is He?  

 

Well yes is the obvious answer.  But where do I put my what about questions?

 

When someone I love dies prematurely?

 

When Mr Right doesn't come along?

 

When there isn't a job in the offering?

 

When life just isn't settled?

 

When the fairness scale isn't tipped my way?

 

Grief and disappointment are valid emotions that make me ask my what about questions.

 

And again the obvious Biblical answer is, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matthew 5 v 45)

 

But at the point of my grief and disappointment things really don't seem like God is good all the time.

 

But He is.

 

The Bible reminds me God never changes - He is the same yesterday today and forever.

 

The song reminds me Jesus loves me.

 

My past experience validates it.

 

As I move away from the raw point of grief or disappointment, (because life does keep going)  I have found God is good - all the time! 



Earthquakes..Where is God?

So much trauma in the world makes one think - 'what's going on? Is the end drawing near?'

 

King David reminds us in Psalm 29 verses 10 & 11

 

The LORD sat enthroned at the flood,

 

And the LORD sits as King forever.

 

The LORD will give strength to His people;

 

The LORD will bless His people with peace.

 

 

 

The loss of life, livelihoods and everything that people know in places like Christchurch and Japan is a tragedy.

 

But God is still on His throne and will be forever.

 

My prayer is that His people will know strength and peace as they sort through enormity of what has happened.



Meet you at the Red Sea

So often when I ask God for things, I already have a plan on how He should answer.

 

Don't you?

 

This morning I was quite challenged by our pastor Jono.

 

Our eleventh hour God doesn't have to 'come good' on my expectations.

 

He can answer my prayers when and how He wants..... my approval isn't on the top of His check list.

 

If God answered my prayers my ways....how would that end?

 

(I haven't got a wonderful track record of being 'right' 100% of the time.....even though I wouldn't admit that anywhere else...it's just between you and me ok?)

 

As the Israelites stood at the edge of the Red Sea I bet they were thinking "Great!  Thanks a lot Moses!"

 

But we know the great God of creation opened up the Red Sea and the Israelites walked to freedom on dry ground.

 

I Imagine if they turned back it would be a bit like when we take our future into our own hands...and run ahead of God trying to answer our prayers our way.....and how often does that end in disaster?

 

Whilst the 'Red Sea' difficulties in my life might not open up the way I thought best, Jono reminded me today, that God is interested in my journey of faith and trust that led me to the Red Sea.  Where I see how God's plans work out in my life, not according to me, but according to His good purposes....because God loves me.

 

Meet you at the Red Sea for some prayer and lets see how life unfolds for us as we journey together towards eternal life.

 

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In just one moment...

Life is marked out by milestones isn't it?

 

The first of everything....

 

birthday

 

anniversary

 

day of school

 

We mark so many things as the stand out times of our lives and forget all the moments along the way.

 

The Pastor reminded me to day it is often the split second - moment of a decision that can change the course of our lives!

 

The decision to go to Cornerstone for our Josh was made relatively quickly and he has rung over the last fortnight with a mix of emotions....understandably.

 

Our only child left out in country NSW with a wonderful community of people...

who aren't Mum and Dad.

 

It's tough!

 

Some friends gave him a little plaque to take with him.....

Jeremiah 29 v 11

 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord; "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

 

 

Packing it in with a cry of  'Come and get me or I'm walking home' is a split second moment that could change the course of his life forever, rob him.

 

He has made it through two weeks now and he loves the community, and is enjoying so much of what he is doing....

but misses us so much....

and we him.

 

With God's help and the prayers of the saints back home, I'm believing God will bring about His good purposes in Josh's life.  

 

 

That he will, as someone from church said, come home a man of God......with a hopeful future and a treasure trove of moments to share.



Oh to be wise!

Proverbs 2 v 10 -13......

 

"When wisdom enters your heart,

and knowledge is pleasant to your soul,

discretion will preserve you;

understanding will keep you,

to deliver you from the way of evil,

from the man who speaks perverse things,

from those who leave the paths of uprightness,

to walk in the ways of darkness"

 

and for another 6 verses there is a list of things that wisdom and knowledge preserves me from

 

....then verse 20.....

 

"So you may walk in the way of goodness,

and keep to the paths of righteousness."

 

Oh to be this wise to walk in the way of goodness and keep to the path the Lord has set for me.

 

....All the time!!!!

 

and how do I become this wise?

 

The writer of Hebrews reminds me to "draw near to God" because Jesus, our great High Priest, has opened the way for me. 

 

"Keep me walking in the way of goodness as I draw near to you Lord!"



Fire and Flood

What a strange and wonderful land we live in....

 

as Dorothea Mackellar says in her iconic poem ...

 

I love a sunburnt country

A land of sweeping plains

Of ragged mountain ranges

Of droughts and flooding rains....

 

One year fire sweeps through this land stealing life and home away from some....and then the floods come.

 

I'm not sure whether it would be better to lose your everything to fire, where nothing is left or to have your everything ruined by the water and silt of a flood.

 

As I watch the news to see for myself the devastation, I want to weep with those people who only have the roof of their home now visible!

 

We never know what is around the next bend in the road do we?

 

Our hopes and dreams can be changed by fire or flood by loss....or by being thrown down a cistern.....

 

Ok so not many of us get thrown down a cistern but Joseph did by his jealous brothers.

(Good reminder in church last Sunday of the story of Joseph in the old Testament)

 

On his death bed Joseph said to his brothers...

 

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." 

Genesis 50 v 20

 

I'm not sure what the poor people who have lost their hopes and dreams because of the flooding rains are feeling right now.

But lets be praying for them that somehow good will come out of the ruin they are facing at this moment in time..... 



Remember when...

I remember when Christmas was so much fun....

 

The hussle of buying presents and food was Mum's responsibility. 

 

Think I want to be Peter Pam....not a lost girl, just not grown up at Christmas!

 

I have a bunch of great memories of my childhood Christmases.

 

Like the year I got Mr Potato Head and Katie Carrot....long before Toy Story was even thought of!  

 

Or the times we spent Christmas at my great aunt's 2 bedroom holiday house in Woy Woy.

Now that was fun all 10 of us squashed in, eating the seafood my grandfathers caught until we were sick of the sight of prawns and crabs!  

(even the snoring of my father, grandfather and uncle was fun, until my brother and I got into trouble from Mum for giggling at 1 o'clock in the morning)

 

And there was total bliss in not knowing the undercurrent of emotions running through family members.

 

I guess it takes another look at the very first Christmas to remind me of the great love God has for us and not want to return to those old days.

 

Mary, with her firstborn child and a new husband, hopes and dreams of a wonderful future, that's a picture of love isn't it?

 

The Heavenly Host singing praises to the new born King.

 

The Shepherds running to see this new born babe the angels were singing about.

 

The men from the East, bringing their gifts of love to worship....they weren't miserly, like I am tempted to be, they brought their best to worship this Saviour.

 

Yes the first Christmas reveals love.....God's planned great love for me.

 

Have you seen the Disney Tarzan movie?  Phill Collins produced a song called "You'll be in my Heart" which features in the movie when the 'mother gorilla' sings to Tarzan.

 

'.....cause you'll be in my heart from this day on, now and forevermore', the words of the chorus go.

 

I love the song, Celtic Woman do a wonderful rendition of it, and it somehow reminds me that I am in God's heart.  

A loving heart that is far greater than the love of an animated mother gorilla.  

 

A loving heart that is the same yesterday today and forevermore.

 

God's heart is to love me, us.

 

How do we respond to that love at Christmas time?

Pass it on......



Feeling like Christmas!

My Agapanthus are all in bud!

I noticed some of my friend Jackie's Agapanthus are already blooming!

 

'And it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!'      

(Did Bing Crosby sing that song?)

 

Christmas can be a mine field of explosions for some.

The extravagant excess of having to make suitably priced purchases can be agonisingly painful and burdensome on finances...which can bring resentment.

Tension builds around the Christmas tree as gifts are given and received with quick dollar calculations going on inside people's heads.

And then Christmas doesn't  always have a happily ever after ending.  

 

Christmas movies are so popular aren't they?  

...they end happily, with lots of festive decorations, glamorously wrapped presents,  traditional foods (usually from the Northern hemisphere and you can see the snow falling outside) and everyone sitting around the table enjoying themselves. 

 

We love that!

 

We want that to be our experience!  

 

But what is so discouraging for me, is the real message of Christmas gets lost.

The focus is on what we haven't got or what we have to do in the hope of having that Christmas.

 

 

I've been in denial about Christmas.

But whether I ignore it or not December 25th is going to come.

 

So what am I to do?

 

I'm going to take some advice from Hebrews 12.

 

  • I am going to lay aside the weight of not having the perfectness of the movie style Christmas.

 

  • I am going to remember that Christmas is all about Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith not about me or movie style Christmases.

 

  • I am going to spend the great love God has placed in my heart on those around me. 

 

The only thing I want to be extravagant with this year is God's love.

 

Which means for me I am freed from having to reach a certain dollar value for a present....

 

No, this year I choose to be wise and loving without spending too much, if the gift I choose with love doesn't reach the suitable amount I'm not going to fossick around to find 'something to go with it'.

 

How my gifts are received is up to the receiver... I choose to give with love.
 
 
Well, look out Miranda Fair, I'm hitting the shops next week....
I'll be there wear my Christmas vest and spread some love to the sales assistants with a happy smile.....
I might take some Chocolates with me to hand out as I make my purchases....that is sure to bring some cheer and love into their lives.
 
 
Its beginning to feel a lot like the Christmas, the type of Christmas that is all about Jesus great love for us......I hope you'll join me in splashing that around!


Mercy and Grace

Hebrews is my Paul's favourite book of the Bible....you know, with him having done the barista's course and everything....

He-Brews.....get it??  Ok comedy isn't my gift!

 

Anyway.....

I have been reading through Hebrews for the last few weeks and found some real gems in there.

Like Chapter 4 verse 16 "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need".

 

We are a funny bunch, aren't we?

In the midst of our needs we don't really want anything other than a quick fix.  

Well, maybe it might be just me, but I suspect there are others that will agree with me.

 

Dwelling on this verse in my mind for a couple of days has painted a picture for me, a scene of me panicking and rushing up to the God of glory, who is sitting on His throne of grace.  

I throw myself at His feet and beg Him to fix my need.  

But instead I receive His glorious mercy, like a ray of sunshine flooding over me and then grace comes in a second flooding ray.  

Peacefully I walk away from the throne of the Most High equipped to face my need.

 

During my next time of need, as I come boldly to the throne of grace, I pray that I won't be panicking for a quick fix....but I will be seeking to obtain mercy and grace to equip me to face my trouble.

 

What about you?



do you know what?

What a difference a day can make!

What a difference friendship can make!

What a difference God makes when we surrender to Him!

 

I reckon we should all resolve to be the best friends we can be to those around us all the time.  

 

Holding a grudge, choosing to let someone steal your joy, makes for a bad day....a bad week....a miserable life!

 

And do you know what? ....Life is a choice!  I choose to Love!



...Love!

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corthinans 13 v 13: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

St Francis of Assisi said: Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

 

That's the kind of love Paul is talking about.... don't you think?

 

And oh how hard that kind of love is....don't you think?

 

Sometimes, I think,  I am right, I have been hardly done by and I deserve better than what I got.

 

Today after the Sunday message at church I was once again challenged to think about that Francis of Assisi and Apostle Paul type of love.

 

Forgiving when forgiveness hasn't been asked for. 

 

Letting go of things that really aren't going to matter 'when the roll is called up yonder'.

 

Remembering everyone around me is on 'their own journey'.

With struggles and joys that determine how they are going to respond to me.

 

 

Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words!



Gloomiest of days

Sometimes life does seem gloomy...and we think it couldn't get much gloomier...but it does!

 

Well we think it does...

 

For the last few days I have been letting the storm clouds of life spoil everything.  

I've looked at those clouds and believed they were going to pelt down on me.  

I've been busy focussing on them and expecting the worst,  so I've  missed out on many joys.

I've still functioned, I turned up to my commitments in body but not in spirit.

 

Last night God did reign down on me.

Although I didn't want to accept Him ministering to me, I found in Hebrews chapter 1 the reminder of the angels being our ministering spirits, sent from God.

 

So I surrendered my obsession of waiting for the storm clouds to pelt me.

I confessed my unfaithfulness, my gloomy expectations and I cried a bucket load of tears....and I felt so much better!

 

Jesus sits at God's right hand in Heaven (Hebrews tells us He does),  He upholds all things, constantly sustaining creation, according to God's sovereign purposes.



The Waves of Life

I had thirty minutes up my sleeve before Scripture last Thursday, I was at Cronulla, so I parked at the beach and watched the waves.

 

It was therapeutic and refreshing.

 

As the waves rolled in they spoke to me of life.  

 

Some waves the surfers were able to catch and easily ride them in.  

Others looked like dumpers.  

Not being a surfer, I would have to say, which wave to catch seems to be a calculated guess.

 

Life is like that isn't it?  Sometimes we can sit 'out the back' waiting for the right wave.

 

One wrong choice can leave us dumped.

Pumbled, tossed and looking for something to hang onto.

 

Or the right choice can see us riding the wave all the way in.

Enjoyment, exhilaration and looking for someone to share it with.

 

Life's journey is hard sometimes.  

 

We can feel like the waves of life are swamping us.  I did last Thursday.

 

Funnily enough one of the passages of Scripture for that day was Isaiah 40 -43.

As I sat there watching the waves, I thought about God being the 'everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, the one who never faints nor grows weary'.

 

No matter what choices we make, whether we are being dumped or riding high because of the waves of life, He is there to hang onto and He is there to share the exhilaration with. 

 

I find that refreshing and therapeutic.



Daniel's Reputation

I learn so much at Scripture...and so do the children, especially the ones  who are the most distracted.

They are often the ones with the answers to any quiz we have...funny that!!

 

Anyway

We did Daniel in the Lion's den yesterday and this struck me as quite amazing.

 

King Darius was totally impressed with Daniel that's why he promoted him to such a high rank but what the King says each time he refers to Daniel (chapter 6) is a stand out!!!

 

Devastated that Daniel has to be thrown into the Lion's Den, King Darius parting words are:  Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.

 

After a sleepless night King Darius rushed to the den the next morning

The Bible says he called out this:  Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions?

 

Well we know God did, but the phrase 'whom you serve continually' is what gets me.

 

Daniel's reputation is this....he serves God continually, no matter what the consequence or situation. 

Unlike most of the Israelites who have ended up in King Darius' kingdom because of their 'fickle' ways.  (The children at Scripture love the word fickle)

 

So the questions for me are...Am I fickle?  

Do I 'serve continually' the living God, no matter what?

What sort of reputation do I have in the family, work and church arena?

 

Daniel has given me much to think about...what about you?

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Walkies!

While I was shopping the other day, a man walked past me taking his dog for a drag!

The Border Collie wasn't old, he apparently just didn't want to go for 'walkies'.  So the owner was almost dragging him along.

 

The most outstanding thing was the owner was so calm, he just kept a steady pace, undisturbed by his dog's behaviour.

It really made me think!

 

It really reminded me of me.

Of God keeping a steady pace as He tries to lead me at times and I just don't want to be going where He is leading.

But unlike the dog, I can sit down and refuse to keep going.  The poor old Border Collie just had to stick with it.

 

I have a choice.

To willingly follow or to drag along resisting every step.

 

Hmmmm sure something to keep thinking about.

What do you reckon?  

 

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What God Wants

Isaiah 43 v 10 (CEV) 

"I want you to know Me, to trust Me and to understand that I alone am God".

 

 

Sometimes it is hard to trust…like wondering how God is going to answer our prayers and when. 

 

I guess there is a reason God’s timetable is different to ours….it helps to build our character and be content with where we are in the journey of life….argh!  If only this wasn’t so difficult eh?

 

So what are we to do?

I believe God wants us to enjoy today!  

Be thankful for what we do have and work out the ‘what nows’ without worrying.

 

Knowing God is in the business of working for good in our lives also helps us to be thankful and to trust Him....just like Isaiah reminds us that this is what God wants us to do.



Still Rebuilding

I'm still in Ezra!!

 

 

Contemplating all it means to return and rebuild for the Israelites.  In chapter seven and right at the end Ezra makes this statement....

"So I was encouraged, as the hand of the Lord my was upon me...."

 

God withdrew His hand when the Israelites continued to disobey and dishonour Him.  

So it is quite significant that Ezra acknowledges God's hand on him as he led the Israelites back to Jerusalem.

 

Sometimes we feel like our prayers are not being answered and wonder 'where is God in this'.  

 

But He is always there.  

 

And honestly there are times when we are like the Israelites and turn our back on God.  

 

The Israelites had a very long painful journey back to God....may we learn from this!



Rebuilding

During Scripture for the last few months we having been working through some Old Testament History.

 

The division of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.  Good kings and bad kings and leading to the ultimate King...Jesus.

 

My bible reading challenge friend and I are reading through Ezra at the moment....which matches in perfectly for me.

 

Zerubbabel was hindered in his quest to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Although there was a delay eventually the temple was completed.  Reminding me even our good purposes need to come under God's timetable.

 

The children of Israel celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy.

 

Which made me think....maybe we should celebrate answer to prayer and faithfulness a little more as children of the living God.

 

 I think that would mean a bbq in Australia!  What do you think?



The Ripple Effect

Our attitude affects others.

 

When I wake up I choose how my attitude will be and that is when it begins to have a ripple affect on those around me.  

 

Am I pleasant or grumpy?

 

Will I leave the sweet aroma of Christ as I go about my day?

 

When I'm gone what will people remember me by?



Psalm 61 v 1-4

v2 "....when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  

 

How often we feel overwhelmed by life's difficulties.  

 

I don't know about you but my thoughts scramble through a million thoughts and questions about how I am going to manage.  

 

When what I really need to do is staring me in the eye...like King David I need to go to God.

 

Our great God is able to help us through the difficulties and calm us down from being frantic about our situation.

 

Our strong tower, God, is our defense and refuge....particularly when we feel overwhelmed.



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