Friday, April 30, 2010

Writing for God

Yesterday God - yet again - demonstrated His power. He showed me again how much I need Him, how much I must rely on Him.

I realised that when I write for God I can’t allow myself to get caught up in any attempts of personal brilliance. I can’t allow the lure of pride to catch me off-guard. I am here to write for God, to share His word, to be His voice.

I can’t be His voice if I am busy saying my own thing my own way.

I can’t share His truths if I don’t stop to listen to them first.

When I write for God, work for God, do anything in this life, I must remember to hand myself over to Him so that He can use me. I can’t ever forget the importance of prayer. I must practice reliance. I must humbly kneel at His feet.

God is the one with the power.

God is the one with the words.

God is the one who should be glorified.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Passionate Life

I seek a passionate life.
Not a life of drudgery,
Or a life of endurance.
I don’t only want to live,
I want to be ALIVE.

A passionate life takes courage
To stand out from the crowd,
To face the fears
To press on.

It requires me to say,
Close enough is not good enough.

I want to give my best.
I want to give my all.
I want my Lord to fill me.
I want Him to use me.

I pray this passionate life
Will shine with God’s Glory.

I live for Him
Because He died for me.

What kind of life do you want?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not So Fail

While going through the book review section of the newspaper, I came across an amusing book titled, “Edison’s Concrete Piano” by Judy Wearing. It’s a book that covers the backgrounds, personalities, and the work of 16 inventors. This is where you can find out all about the failures of these geniuses.

Thomas Edison brought us the light bulb and photography, but he also tried to create a concrete piano. Other geniuses tried to bring us crazy things like earthquake machines, flying tanks, miracle cures using peanut oil and other failed inventions.

Leonardo da Vinci brought us amazing works of art and was ahead of his time in science. But he believed he was a complete and utter failure. He finished only a few paintings, most of his experiments failed and he had, in his view, very little to show for all his work. But in truth he made such a huge contribution to society.

If these inventors had simply stopped after their first failure, then there is much we may never have seen. If God calls us to do something, then we should do it. Just because it’s God’s will doesn’t mean the way will automatically be easy. It doesn’t mean we will enjoy success the moment we begin.

If it is something that really matters, then we will have to face many obstacles. This is a given. But what is also a given is that God will grant us the strength to persevere, the will to remain positive, and the drive to complete our tasks. He will provide us with everything we need.

So, the next time you look at someone else’s success, know that they had to go through many failures first. Don’t give up the pursuit of your dreams. Because it matters to you, it matters to God.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Life Rescue

Apparently about 150 people fall from large ships each year and three quarters of them are not found again. I can’t even image what it would be like to know you are no more than a speck in a vast ocean and the likelihood of being found is near zero. This is a tragic loss of life and a terrible way to go.

The good news is that a pair of clever Australian inventors created life buoys fitted with Global Positioning Systems. The floatation aids use the satellite tracking technology to help rescue crews find people lost at sea.

They are currently still in the trial process, but this led me to thinking about how God doesn’t need technology to find us.

He will find us in the storms.
He will find us in the fogs.
He will find us in the darkness.

God is our Rescuer.

He keeps us afloat when the anxieties of life threaten to drown us. We only have to reach out and accept that help.

Monday, April 26, 2010

To a Worm in Horseradish


There is a Yiddish proverb that says, ‘To a worm in horseradish, the whole world is horseradish.’ This is very true. What else does the worm have? The worm is content. The worm only knows horseradish. The worm eats it and is filled by it. It knows what to expect from horseradish. It is easy for the worm to be convinced that the horseradish completes it.

And even if the worm is not content, even if the worm recognises that the horseradish is rotten, the worm knows no better.

But you and I know there is more to the world than horseradish. As Christians, we are asked to live outside the horseradish.

When the other worms notice us not feeding on the horseradish, not being of the world of horseradish, they will ask, “Why are you different? Why do you not partake of all that horseradish has to offer?”

And we can reply, “Worm does not live on horseradish alone.”
---
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wallpaper of the Week - Ephesians 2:10


Lest We Forget

Tomorrow is Anzac Day in Australia. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. It is a day of remembrance. Please spare a prayer for all those who fought to protect their country - not just in WW1, but in all the wars, in all the military actions. Please pray too for their families.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Reward of Free

Yesterday I wrote about The Price of Free, that is, the cost of following Jesus. I covered alienation, self denial, reliance and vigilance. Today, I’d like to write the counter balance: the reward for following Jesus and why it far out-weighs any burden.

The reward is freedom. Without Christ’s sacrifice, without his saving grace, we would have remained locked in an inescapable prison. And then we would have died. But not only are we saved from death, we are given eternal life.

The reward is community. We may be alienated from the world, but we now have a new family. We are part of a community that builds each other up. We have all the support we could ever need. Our brothers and sisters surround us with love and encouragement and strength. We are made whole by the new connection to the many. The difference is that this community is not just made up of fallible people; it’s brought together through the renewing power of our Lord and Saviour.

The reward is self denial. From a worldly perspective this is a cost, but from a Christian view it is a reward. When we deny ourselves our world opens up to include others and most especially it includes God. We give Him room to move in our lives. We are more able to love others, more able to love ourselves and more able to love God and see all that He has done for us. We gain God’s peace.

The reward is reliance. Again, this could be seen as a cost, but the end result is a reward. It’s no longer up to us to save the world. It’s no longer up to us to carry the burden on our own (Matthew 11:30). It’s no longer up to us to battle the storms. We have our Lord who will fight for us. We only need to be still. (Exodus 14:14). We have no reason to doubt Him and every reason to trust Him.

The reward is a relationship with God. This is the greatest reward of all. We gain a friend who will never betray us, who will never leave us and who will always help us. We gain a love that gives us unspeakable joy. We gain a power that will always protect us. We gain everything worth having.

Can you think of other rewards to add to this list? How has God made a difference to your life in a way that out-weighs any cost?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Price of Free


Our old home was a dungeon. We used to be chained there… in the dark...waiting to die. Then Jesus freed us. He broke our chains, he took our place and then he paid the price of our punishment. We couldn’t earn this freedom. We couldn’t buy this freedom. We couldn’t steal this freedom. He gave it to us freely. And so it cost us nothing to accept this gift.

But there is a cost to following Jesus. It’s important to know this. If we blindly follow Him, expecting rainbows and candy, then we will fall away the moment any form of conflict comes our way. Below I have listed some of the costs:

The cost of alienation: We no longer belong to the world. We are outcasts to its ways. We are set apart and different. No longer can we laugh at the lewd jokes. No longer can we gather in the workplace kitchens and exchange gossip. No longer can we bad-mouth someone else because they bad-mouthed us. We must face persecution without striking back.

The cost of self denial: God must come first. We are no longer number one. We must deny our pride, our self reliance, our stubbornness. God must come first, even above our spouses, our children, our friends and our jobs.

The cost of reliance: We must give up our independence. We must put our trust in God and rely on Him in everything we do.

The cost of vigilance: We can’t relax and take it easy. We must be forever vigilant for the subtle things that turn our attention away from God. We can’t take a break. We can’t fall back on our old ways.

Are you prepared to pay the price of following Jesus? Can you think of other costs to add to this list?

Tomorrow I will talk about the REWARD of following Jesus, which far out-weighs the cost.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Which Animal Are You?

Are you an eagle or a duck?
Do you soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31)?
Or do you wander around the picnic grounds like a duck looking for scraps?

Are you a lion or a mouse?
Are you strong and fierce for the Lord?
Or do you hide and scurry about, lacking in courage to take a stand?

Are you a deer or a sloth?
Do you scale great heights (Psalm 18:33)?
Or do you go nowhere and do nothing?

Are you a dog or a cat?
Do you follow your Master, happy to do His bidding?
Or are you independent and indifferent?

These are questions you need to ask yourself.
Your answers will reveal how close your relationship is with God.

Do you give your all?
Or do you hold back?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

6 Easy Ways to Gain Elephant Skin

Did you know that an elephant’s skin is extremely tough around most parts of its body and measures about 2.5cm thick? Now that’s thick skin! Is your skin this thick? Do you have the ability to shrug off criticism, or better, learn from it? Can you ignore jibes? Can you shut out other people’s doubts about you?

Below are six easy ways to grow an elephant skin:

1. Never take it personally. Often when faced with those who are quick to judge, they have no real understanding of your position. They may be thinking they are helping you. They may be jealous. They may be afraid. What they are feeling is their problem, not yours.

2. Do your Best. You can’t be criticised for being lazy if you do your best.

3. Persevere. Don’t turn yourself into a victim by listening to hurtful words. Don’t give up if you are offered criticism. Learn from the experience. Bend in the storms, but don’t give up.

4. Pray. Pray for strength to withstand the doubts, the fears, the jibes. Pray for a thick elephant skin.

5. Trust God. Trust Him to open the doors of opportunity when they need to be opened. Trust Him to close those doors if it’s not where you are supposed to be. And believe that He will give you the desire, the drive and the ability to achieve the things you need to achieve.

6. Know you are loved. God loves you and will never stop loving you. He will hold you close and protect you. His faithfulness can never be questioned. All those doubters and haters can’t touch you because of this love.

Can you think of other ways of overcoming criticism and doubts?

photo: rock formation at Bare Island, Sydney, Australia

Monday, April 19, 2010

Persecute Me


Tell me I’m foolish. Ostracise me from your groups. Hate me. Reject me.

It only makes me stronger.

Throw stones at me. Chase me from your homes. Steal from me.

It only makes me stronger.

Say cruel things to me. Lock me in a prison. Do your worst.

It only makes me stronger.

I am stronger because I have my Lord who shields me from everything that could ever be done to me. His love for me shines through all the fear, all the hate, all the persecution.


He is Glory.

He is Life

He is mine.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Honest Award

I've been given an award, thanks to Rebekah from Reflection Space. It has taken me a few days to think about it.

According to the rules, I have to share 10 honest things about myself with you, and then pass the award on to ten of my favourite bloggers. Here it goes...

1. I’ve been married to my husband for 11 years. He is my soul mate. He is my best friend.

2. I love to write. I can lose myself in my writing. Not only do I love to write about God and living the life of faith, but I also love writing fantasy and science fiction. It might seem like a strange combination but that’s me.

3. I love indulging in digital art better than traditional art because it’s less messy and heaven made the undo button.

4. I don’t like myself. I am my worst critic in everything I do. God is working with me on this one. He is teaching me self acceptance. Some days I’m better at it than others.

5. Most people don’t realise that without God by my side I’m afraid of everything. He gives me strength and courage. He gives me peace.

6. I love the artistic eye of exceptional photographers. They see another aspect of the world God created.

7. I’m an avid computer game player. I even competed in an international tournament. After winning the nationals, I went to the USA and competed in the finals against the Americans and the Japanese. I was the only female competitor. And I won first place.

8. I love chocolate. I’m not talking about white chocolate. That’s pretend chocolate. I’m talking about the hardcore stuff... the 70% cocoa or higher. Nomnomnom.

9. I don’t drink coffee. I love the smell of it but just can’t handle the taste of it.

10. I have been a Christian for 28 years. I didn’t know what it was to be alive until I met Christ. But it’s only been the last few years that I began to talk and write about my faith.

I know that I should take advantage of the next bit to promote my blog etc, but honestly many of my favourite blogs are award free blogs. So, I’m going to name a few of my favourites (not in any order) and leave it at that.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

In Service to the King

God calls us to serve others but many of us aren’t comfortable with the imagery of being a servant. We think it’s somehow demeaning. We think it’s a thankless task.

So, what does it really mean to serve?

It means doing the very best that we can regardless of what anyone else is doing.

It means giving all that we can, even when we know we will gain nothing in return.

It means loving not only our family and friends, but our neighbour, the stranger and the people we don’t understand.

Jesus is our Servant King. He did his best and saved our souls even though we didn’t know we needed saving. He taught us the right way to live even though we didn’t want to listen. He gave us his life even though we spat on him. He loves us even though we continually fail him. He remains faithful to us regardless of our lack of faith in him.

We honour our Lord by striving to do all we can to be more like him in everything we do.

Do you struggle with this concept or do you embrace it wholeheartedly? How do you serve your God?

Note: Ron, The Old Geezer, left a comment in yesterday’s post which inspired me to write this and another article. Thanks Ron!

photo: barbed wire fence, Murwillumbah, NSW, Australia

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When is a Church Not a Church?

The image you see above is of a building that looks like a church, but it’s not. It’s a medical centre for dermatology. That sounds odd, doesn’t it? It also sounds potentially disheartening.

Obviously it used to be a church. It was originally built in the 1920s to serve the Presbyterian denomination in the Sydney suburb of Kogarah. So, what happened to the people that once attended the services at this church? Did they drift away? Did they scatter in different directions?

Before you begin to grieve the loss of yet another church, take a look at the building behind the medical centre, then take a look at the next picture.

That’s right, the congregation didn’t drift away. They out-grew the little red brick building. They built a new modern building that could better cater to their growing needs.

The new place may not look like the traditional house of worship, but the church is not the building. It’s not the bricks and mortar, nor the glass and steel. The church is the people.

Their faith in God holds them together. Their trust in the salvation that Jesus offers makes them strong. Where they worship is irrelevant. The people are the church because they continue to come together in the name of our Lord and praise His holy name.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrations

Reflection Space


Today’s post is both a devotional and a thank you. I’d like thank Rebekah from Reflection Space for turning one of my blogs into a featured post to celebrate her 100th post. I feel deeply honoured.

I am also delighted because “I Am Yours” was written when I had only about 3 followers. It seemed a shame for one of my favourite posts to get lost amongst all the other posts.

Please visit her blog and check it out. 100 is an impressive number and it reflects her dedication to sharing her life with God, her creativity and her gift for encouragement.

As Romans 12:6-8 says, we all have different gifts and, like Rebekah, we should use these gifts with generosity and cheerfulness. We may never know how much it touches someone. We may never know what a difference we have made. We may never gain any feedback at all. But it is right and it is pleasing to God and it does make a difference.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Of Planets and Normalities.


Who wants to be normal? Who wants to stand out? Many of us want both, but is it possible?

Planet CoRot-9b is an exciting discovery. It was found in a constellation 1500 light years from Earth. Its orbit is similar to that of Mercury. Its size is similar to that of Jupiter and it’s believed that its surface temperature is between -20 degrees and 160 degrees Celsius. This makes the planet mighty similar to those in our own solar system.

This planet stands out because of its very normality.

We as Christians can also stand out for the better when we embrace our ‘normality’.

As a Christian it’s normal to show kindness when no kindness is first shown to us.

It’s normal to forgive the unforgivable.

It’s normal to love the unlovable.

It’s normal to care when no one else does.

These things don’t make us extraordinary. They make us normal in Christ. They may not always seem easy, but it’s God’s power that makes them possible.

And these are the things that make a difference. These are the things that people notice and remember.

We are not strange and unusual. We are normal.

Do you embrace your normality? Do you feel normal? Or do you feel highly unusual?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

God's Will


Your Will

Nothing more

Nothing less


Amen



Please note that this will be my last Sunday Prayer. I will be taking Sunday's off from blogging. If anyone would like to take over the segment, or would like to contribute a single prayer, please contact me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wallpaper of the Week - Philippians 4:13

I took this photo on my adventure at Danger Bay, a place I posted about in March. Against the odds this plant was able to take root and grow in what seems the most unlikely of places. God gives us strength to do everything, even the most unlikely of things.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Seeds of Praise

Deb at Truth's Vessel started a post about Seeds of Praise.

She challenges us to answer the below questions, then cut and paste this survey on to your site for your friends to answer. She says, "Before we know it, together we will have planted a huge garden of PRAISE! Let's see how far we can scatter our 'seeds of praise'!"


Seeds of Praise Survey

1. Give one instance when you didn't feel like praising God, but did anyway.
2. List three circumstances in your life that you'd like to praise God for.
3. Share four people you praise God for bringing into your life.
4. List three bloggers who's sites you praise God for.
5. Name a Character of God that You wish to praise Him for.
6. Give two verses of Scripture that cause your heart to praise God.
7. Share an acrostic ("P" is for Papa, "R" is for Redeemed, "A" is for Adoration ....) for P.R.A.I.S.E.
8. Openly share what praise means to you.

I will copy/paste my answers I put on her site in the comments section below

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Awesome

Do you ever get a word stuck in your head that you then use everywhere? Is it like one of those horrible tunes that won’t go away? Do you fight it or do you just go with it?

Well that’s happened to me. My word is “awesome”. You’ll probably pick it up in many of my comments and have a quiet chuckle to yourself.

It’s not like a word I could really use that often, but somehow I manage it. I recently read somewhere that overusing ‘awesome’ is outdated and indicates someone who wants to appear younger than they are. How awesome is that?

Well, despite that, I love awesome. Awesome is such an awesome word, so I decided to go with it.

God the Father is awesome.
I am filled with awe for His love and His patience and His power.

God the Son is awesome.
I am awestruck by what Jesus did for me.

God the Holy Ghost is awesome.
I am filled by the Spirit. I am guided by Him. I am over-awed by this.

Every one of the gifts God gives me is awesome.
I can’t fathom all that He does for me, or all that He gives me.

My God is awesome. There aren’t enough words to describe this awesomeness.

What else do you find awesome? Do you love the word as much as me? Is there a word that you get stuck on as well?

photo: an awesome sunrise in Victoria, Australia

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

5 Reasons to Smile

Do you have a reason not to smile? Are you going through a difficult patch in your life right now? Are you feeling overcome with stress? Does everyone around you seem grumpy? Well I am challenging you with five great reasons to smile.

1. Smiles can change the mood in others.
If you smile at someone then you are likely to make them feel welcomed, warmed and safe. If they are a stranger, then their first impression of you will be good. Because of this, potentially volatile situations can be calmed with a smile. I’m not talking about a cynical smile or any other kind of superficial grin. I’m talking about a genuine smile that speaks of honesty and good will.

2. A smile has a way of changing your own attitude.
When I was suffering from a mild case of depression, when nothing was going right and the world seemed against me, a friend offered me some advice. She told me to stand in front of the mirror in the mornings and smile. I was of course reluctant. I felt stupid and I certainly didn’t like looking at myself. But I did it. I stood there and smiled. It started as a real teeth-gritter. I looked like something gone feral. Then I tried again. This time the smile softened. I tried beaming at myself and it worked. I instantly felt better and happier. After practicing this for a while, my whole attitude changed. I decided to smile at the world, regardless.

3. Smiles keep you healthy.
There are statics that say happy people live longer. When we smile, we are happy, and happiness boosts our immune systems. Stress and worries may still be a concern, but smiling defuses their power over us. We become stronger in all that we do.

4. You can change the world with a smile.
Smiles are an amazing thing because they are infectious. If you smile at someone, then they are more likely to return that smile. They then become more willing to share their smile with someone else. And so it spreads.

5. Smiles are a gift.
God gave us the gift of smiling. No other creature can do the same. Monkeys may be able to imitate it, but they're merely baring their teeth. For us, smiles show our love for one another. They display kindness. They make us feel comfortable.We smile in fellowship.

So let’s use this gift and start changing ourselves and the world – with a smile.

Can you think of other reasons to smile?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting Steamy

On the long weekend my husband hired a wallpaper steamer with the aim of doing some much needed renovating. There are parts of the house that haven’t seen a fresh coat of paint for at least twenty years…maybe more. Nothing needs major repair, but oh my goodness, we need a new look.

So we steamed off the old metallic wallpaper in the bathroom, gave the walls a clean, filled in the cracks and gaps in the old walls and then rolled on a fresh coat of paint.

What an amazing difference that made. The bathroom looks clean again. It looks revived!

Just like our house, it doesn’t take much to gain revival in our lives. First we have to decide to do it. It doesn’t happen on its own. The wallpaper of our faith might start to peel off because of age or neglect, but it won’t fix itself.

Secondly, we need to make the time. If my husband and I had worked on the bathroom for only 5 minutes over the entire weekend, then nothing would have been achieved. We need the time to allow our faith to grow, the time to pray, the time to meditate on God’s word, the time to praise our Lord with joy and vigour.

Thirdly, we need to put a little muscle into it. Steaming off old wallpaper takes more effort than you’d think. My arms are aching! Reviving our faith which has grown dusty and tired also takes effort. Desire alone is not enough. Half-hearted attempts won’t get us far. Put your all into it!

And finally, pray. Allow God to change you. Allow God’s power to fill you. Ask for His help. Ask for His guidance. Ask for revival.


What did you get up to this long weekend? What are the things that help to bring a fresh perspective to your faith?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Forgiven

Last Thursday’s post posed a few difficult questions. Would you do the same as Jesus if you knew it would end in pain, betrayal and then death? The disciples proved they couldn’t. They ran away when Jesus was taken. Peter denied his Lord three times, just as Jesus had predicted (Luke 22:34).

We can beat ourselves up over this difficult question because we know deep down that it would be unlikely we could shine as Jesus did. But the great news is that we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves. The whole reason that Jesus came to save us was because we can’t save ourselves. We can’t be the perfect sacrifice. If we could, then we wouldn’t need God to save us.

What we can do is follow Jesus with all our heart, all our soul and all our strength. The disciples may have run away, but they came back. They were forgiven. God strengthened their faith. They then spread the gospel. They did great works for God. They faced many trials and they continued to follow Jesus.

It’s important to ask the difficult questions. It’s important to strive to follow Jesus’ example. But it’s also important to know that God forgives us when we stumble. He picks us up when we fall. He will even carry us when we need it.

Are you the type of person who feels guilt-ridden when you think you have failed God? If so, what do you do about it? What things do you find hardest about following Jesus? Do you truly feel forgiven?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday Prayer

Our Lord is Risen. He is Risen indeed!

Dear Lord, we worship you and praise you. You rose from the horrors of the cross, you rose from the depths of anguish and pain, you rose from death to save us. We ask that you fill us, change us and make us more like you. Show us our sins and give us the strength to give them up. We turn back to you now and ask your forgiveness. We thank and praise you for your patience with us and your forgiving heart. You are so worthy because it was your faithfulness and love towards us that saved us from ourselves. So, Lord, we ask in worship to you, that you help us to be the people you made us to be.

Amen.


photo: sunrise at Merimbula Lake on the Sapphire Coast, southern NSW, Australia

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

What’s so Good about Good Friday?

Two thousand years ago we sentenced an innocent man to death. We betrayed our teacher, our friend, our God. We crucified Jesus Christ, the only human who was ever without sin. He was perfect, he was pure and he loves us.

So, what’s so good about Good Friday? Jesus is more than just a man. He is our Lord and he is our God. He chose to die. He did it for us. He took the punishment meant for us. He sacrificed himself so that we might live. Without this sacrifice we would have no hope for any future. We would end and never be able to stand in God’s glorious presence.

We are saved because of God’s love. We are forgiven.

This was meant to be. This was God’s plan from the very beginning.

What does Good Friday mean to you? What do you do to remember Christ’s sacrifice?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Would You?

On the night before Jesus died on the cross he had his last supper with his disciples. He broke bread, he drank wine, and he took part in fellowship. He knew what was ahead for him. He knew he would suffer terrible betrayal and excruciating pain. He knew he would die.

Would you do the same or would you flee?

Jesus continued to teach his disciples on that final night. He taught them about God, about fellowship, and about love. He did this even though he knew Judas’ heart was closed. He did this even though he knew Peter would deny him. He did this even though he knew his disciples would abandon him.

Would you do the same or would you give up?

Jesus asks us to be like him. He asks us to love each other even when that love is not returned. He asks us to value fellowship, even when we may be betrayed. He asks us to follow him even though we may become an outcast.

Will you? Or will you walk away?

Photo: The sun during a bushfire in NSW, Australia