I was reading about various diets and discovered a large number that encourage bad eating habits. Often these fad diets are endorsed by beautiful celebrities, but in my opinion these food choices only put more stress on our bodies. These diets even warn against bad health, bad breath, and other more unpleasant side effects. This just sounds crazy to me.
I’m not a dietician and I’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve learned through my faith in God that balance is the key to a healthy, productive life.
God asks us to be active and not lazy. But we must also rest.
God asks us to live in the community and help others. But we must also find quiet time alone with Him.
And so we can also find balance in our lifestyle and the food we eat. God provides nutrition for our bodies through a wide variety of foods. As custodians of our bodies, we need to eat to keep ourselves strong. Not too much, not too little. If we find this healthy balance, then we won’t need any fad diet.
Ask God to help you find balance in every part of your life.
I love caving. I love exploring the depths of the earth. It's fun and exciting and appeals to my sense of adventure.
The image above is in a cave system in Victoria, Australia. What you see is not the entrance to the caves, but a mere hole in the cave ceiling where the light is able to shine through. This is the only area in the otherwise dusty caves where there is such life.
Jesus is this life-giving light for us. If we choose not to bask in His glory, then we will wither and die. But if we do choose His light, then we will grow to be strong and vibrant.
Lying is bad, right? It’s a sin because it’s a deception and it breaks trust. But is all lying bad?
We lie to build people up. When a friend asks if they look good, then our reply is generally yes. It’s only cruel to point out they are looking a little tired. It’s only mean to highlight their weight gain. It’s insensitive to suggest they would benefit from visiting a hairdresser they can’t afford. All those things are irrelevant anyway. And so we lie.
We lie to preserve the peace. A friend of mine claimed she paid only $200 for a ring. I was with her when she bought it and so I knew it cost her triple the amount. She needed me to agree with her. I knew an argument would follow if I reminded her of the truth, so I claimed I couldn’t remember. It was an easy way out.
We lie to protect our loved ones. We lie to protect ourselves. We lie to save someone’s feelings. We lie to support our friends. We lie to cover embarrassment.
It’s easy to justify lying. But it doesn’t make it right. These white lies are part of the “little” sins I spoke of yesterday.
God will never lie to us. We can completely trust Him 100% of the time. God doesn’t have moods to pander to. He doesn’t need to make himself look better than He is and He is able to protect us without deception.
There are ways of saving someone’s feelings, protecting someone’s safety, avoiding arguments without lying and without being so brutally honest that we end up hurting someone.
When Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin,” he wasn’t lying. (John 8:34)
So, walk away from the chains Jesus broke and strive to be more like him.
Mathematical truth: if you have 100 steps in a process and each step has a 99% success rate, then the chance of gaining a successful completion is only 37%.
I’m not a mathematician so these numbers boggled my mind. I had expected a higher percentage of success.
This led me to thinking about Christianity in the community. When we accept just a small amount of sin in our lives, then we represent the 1% of failure. Failure to trust God. Failure to glorify God. Failure to be living examples of Christ. We might think it’s a little sin. We might think it’s inconsequential, but sin – all sin – is abhorrent to God. And sin impacts the community in ways that can be devastating.
When we feel all warm and fuzzy over the 99% of good Christian living we are able to achieve though trusting our Lord, we are ignoring that 1%. But when we combine all of us together, as we must since we are one community, then that minor 1% on a personal level becomes a magnified failure in the community.
No wonder everything seems so broken in our society. No wonder we struggle and we suffer. It’s because we too often accept those “little” sins. We think they don’t have much of an impact. We don’t even notice them eating away at our peace.
So, the next time you feel that spark of pride begin to rule your thoughts and your actions, give it instantly to the Lord. And if it’s not pride, then ask Him to show you where your 1% of weakness lies. Ask the Lord to show you where you may have relaxed your vigil.
What are some of the things to keep you alert against sin in your life?
I read an article recently about how the treatment of ageing could be revolutionised by a new approach that classes it as an illness. David Gems, a biogerontologist, is quoted to have said at a conference in London, “If ageing is seen as a disease, it changes how we respond to it. For example, it becomes the duty of doctors to treat it.”
This statement upset me a great deal. Yes, ageing is a difficult process. I’m not as physically or mentally fast as I used to be. I’m more fragile. I have grey hairs, laugh lines and my eye sight is failing. But I’m not about to call it an illness.
Ageing is a natural process. It reminds us that this world and these bodies are only temporary. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
I’m not about to go all dark ages on anyone either and claim we aren’t allowed to cover up those grey hairs, or can’t use technologically advanced moisturiser. What I am saying however is that we don’t need to be afraid of our mortality. We don’t need to become obsessed with our appearance.
God will love us no matter how withered we become. He will be our strength when we grow weak (Isaiah 46:4). He is the light that shines out from us and makes us eternally beautiful (Revelation 21:23). He is our home. He is our forever.
One of my favourite movies of all time is Ladyhawke which was made in 1985. In the opening scene Phillipe Gaston (played by Matthew Broderick) is attempting to escape the dungeons of Aquila. He makes a bargain with God. If God rescues him, then he swears to never pick another pocket as long as he lives. God does get him out and the first thing that Phillipe does with his freedom is to pick another pocket. He says to God, “I know I promised, Lord, never again. But I also know, that you know, what a weak-willed person I am.”
The audience generally laughs at this point. We’ve all been there. We make a bargain with God and try to coax him into giving us the things we want. Then we don’t fulfil our end of the deal.
A small village in Bavaria, Germany, struck a bargain with God in 1633. The village of Oberammergau vowed to put on a play about Jesus every 10 years if God rid them of the plague. They have kept their promise for almost 400 years now. Their faith and dedication can be commended. But does this make it ok then to make a bargain with God?
I say no. God can’t be bargained with. We can’t flatter Him into anything. We can’t influence Him. We can’t make compromises with Him. We can’t buy God’s favour with good deeds or right behaviour. And we can’t earn a place in God’s household.
Honour God. Thank Him. Rejoice in His name. Trust His guidance. Do the best that you can every moment of your life. But don’t try to bargain with Him. God is so much greater than that.
What might be the things that lead you to attempt to make bargains with God?
I’d like to tell you about a girl I’ll call Cathleen. I knew her in primary school when I was around 10 or 11 years old. I saw her as a friend and we hung out together in her group.
She was the alpha. She was tall. Her blonde hair cascaded down her back in a golden shimmer. All the boys liked her so she learned early in her young life how to wield her power. I was short and all my friends told me I was ugly. I didn’t have Cathleen’s confidence. I think she only tolerated me because her best friend, Rachael, was also my best friend.
Then one day I did something wrong. I have no idea what it was. Perhaps I finally stood up to Cathleen’s continuous put-downs. Whatever it was, she didn’t like it. By the end of the week the entire school was against me.
My best friend didn’t want to get involved. She didn’t want to get caught up in a tug-o-war. I didn’t blame her - much. I knew if she tried to defend me she’d also get torn to shreds. She did offer what she could and I took that small offering because I had nothing.
Years later I realised that it was Rachael who influenced me the most. Her friendship had made the difference. It was the life-line that made it possible to bear all the hate.
Rachael’s friendship is the kind we offer God. It’s weak, it doesn’t always stand its ground against hardship and we often try to keep one foot in our old ways and the other in our new. But God doesn’t judge what we can give. He accepts it with His arms out wide.
He will always be there for us. He will always be the friend we need, even when we struggle to be a friend in return.
Did you ever suffer from bullying at school? What got you through? How is God the perfect friend to you?
Last week Glowingirl from Sugar Tails gave me the Versatile Blogger award. I feel very honoured and I wish to thank her for her generosity.
According to the rules, to accept this award I have to tell you seven random things about myself. So, here goes:
1. I have a passion for my Lord and Saviour.
2. He is the Light of my life.
3. He accepts me as I am - every bit of me.
4. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Him.
5. I wish the whole world could see His Greatness, His Glory, His Love.
6. I have an 8 year old cat named Cortana who follows me around everywhere. I love her to pieces, but she is sick at the moment. She has very much been on my mind lately. Please pray that the right thing happens for her.
7. I have started a new blog about writing called W.I.P. It. If you are interested in writing and blogging tips, then please feel free to visit. I’m hoping I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew.
Ok, so I cheated a little bit on the random element ;)
In this crazy world of fears, anxieties, distractions, can we really trust that God will give us peace?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)
Not only does He promise to give us rest for our souls, but we can trust Him to do this…
Because He created us -
He made us in His image.
Because He knows us –
He is omniscient.
He knows exactly what we need
when we need it.
Because He loves us –
God is love.
Because He is truth –
This is the immutable character of God
Because He is able –
Nothing will keep us from our Lord.
What are some of the things you do to remind yourself that you can rest in God’s Peace?
After last Monday’s post about my mum I thought I’d continue the theme of the people who influence our lives. Today I’m going to talk about my husband.
He is a serious man who comes across as aloof and unattainable by anyone who doesn’t know him. For a long while he was just a friend in a crowd of friends. I didn’t know him very well. I don’t think anyone really knew him. But then I found his sparkle.
Ok, so real men don’t sparkle, blah, blah, grunt and scratch.
But, real men need to be reminded that they shouldn’t be afraid to shine. My husband shines for me.
This adorable man taught me what love meant. He taught me that it didn’t have to be a struggle, it wasn’t a one way thing, and it can be forever. He offered me friendship, he showed me patience, he gave me respect.
We discovered we could trust each other. We could be 100% ourselves with each other. We don’t need to hide. We don’t need to pretend.
This is the kind of love that God offers all of us – and more. We don’t need to hide or pretend with Him. We can trust God with everything: our deepest darkest secrets, our joys, our fears, our dreams and our struggles. It’s a precious love that we should never take for granted.
I thank the Lord daily for my husband. Do you daily thank God for a special someone?
Do you ever hide things? Do you hide things from other people? Do you hide things from yourself? Do you try to hide things from God?
Some scientists are obsessed with hiding things. Those from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and the Imperial College in London claim to have made a small bump on a gold surface disappear using a sheet made of photonic crystal.
The “invisibility cloak” is only 100 microns by 30 microns. (One micron = one thousandth of a millimetre). And the bump they made vanish was 10x smaller again. So, we are talking miniscule. Smaller than a freckle. Smaller than a speck.
It might sound inconsequential, but it’s a big step in science.
Do you put this much effort into trying to hide things? Have you been carrying around secrets?
While I am impressed by the scientists’ efforts, I’m also reminded that we can’t hide anything from God. He sees all and knows all.
We can’t pretend with God that everything is superdooper when really it’s not. He knows the truth. He wants us to share with Him all these things we hold locked up inside. It’s not because He needs to know what’s going on inside us. He already knows. It’s because we need to tell Him. We need to be honest with Him – and honest with ourselves. We need to give Him our lives, not just a small portion of our lives. We need to give Him our everything.
And we need to be Real.
Pray to God and ask Him to show you what you’ve been hiding from yourself. Pray for the courage to hear the truth.
Did you know that the poison from an oleander plant is so strong that it can poison a person who simply eats the honey made by bees that have digested oleander nectar? That’s some serious honey.
When we ‘digest’ all the things the world has to offer – gossip, greed, pride – it’s like eating the oleander honey. It becomes poison to the soul that spreads like a disease. It will eat away our love for others. It will corrode our love for God and it will convince us that we don’t need to rely on God.
However, when we ‘digest’ God’s word and make it a part of our lives, then our natural response is to spread the goodness. Not only do we benefit, but everyone around us benefits. Rather than reacting with equal insensitivity when someone wrongs us, we respond instead with love. We stop the poisonous cycle. This is because we have become more open for God to shine through us.
So, fill yourself with God. Embrace His ways. Practise His truths. And share the sweet honey of His salvation.
note: I wrote this as guest poster for Elizabeth Mahlou's Blest Athiest blog. Thanks, Elizabeth, for the privilege.
14 bags of Burden
15 jars of Fear
1 bottle of Pride
1 heaped spoon of Impatience
Method: Mix these together in a large bowl and then hand over to Jesus. Do not take the bowl back. Do not make more mixture. If you do make extra, then hand that over to Jesus as well.
1 mustard seed portion of Faith
1 continuous flow of Prayer
1 heart filled with God’s Love
1 mind filled with God’s Word
Method: Throw into God’s hands all your Faith, stir in Prayer, then pour in God’s Word and God’s Love. Let the mixture infuse into your life. Be still. Stir in more Prayer.
1 spoon of Practise
1 cup of Perseverance
17 bags of Joy
1 truck load of Blessings
52 jars of Thanksgiving
1 God-breathed package of Peace
Note: These ingredients are provided by God. If you spill any, or run out, then God will provide more.
Method: Using the spoon of Practise, blend together the Perseverance, Joy, Blessings, Thanksgiving and Peace. Invite some friends around and distribute. You will have made enough mixture to share with your neighbour as well as anyone else you meet. Be generous. Repeat often.
Deb over at Truth Vessel issued a "Tag" last week to all who follow/read her blog. The game is to look in your computer's photo files. Go to the 8th folder and choose the 8th picture, then post that pic and write about it.
My eighth folder is filled with images I took in 2008. The eighth photo was the picture you see above. It was taken on the balcony of a restaurant overlooking a winery in the Hunter Valley (about a 2 hour drive north of Sydney). We went there to celebrate my mum’s birthday.
My mum and I are best friends. We’ve gone through a lot together. We share all our struggles. We laugh at each other’s terrible jokes. We talk and we talk. We want the best for each other.
Because of this, my mum has been a powerful influence in my life. If you’ve read my testimony, then you will know that she is the one who brought me to Christ. And she had only been a Christian for a year. She became a minister and led many churches. She showed me that so much is possible if we only put our faith in God.
She even taught me the meaning of sacrifice. She gave up so much for her family. And she gave up so much for her Lord. My mum is an amazing artist, but she gave it up so that she could focus on her ministry work. At first I didn’t understand this. I thought she was giving up too much, but she always reassured me that when she retired God would give her the time to paint again. I am sure that conviction was what got her through some of the more difficult challenges she had to face.
Now she is retired and, yes, she is painting again. She works in the traditional mediums of oils and inks and watercolours. But her work is far from traditional. Every time I visit her the smell of turps fills the spare room/studio. Her eyes beam with excitement as she shows me her latest creations.
I love my mum. I feel so blessed to have a friend like her.
Who has had a huge influence in your life?
Is anyone brave enough to post the 8th pic in their 8th photo folder?
Today is the final day of my series about the five senses. I left the greatest until last: the sense of touch.
I believe the most important sense of all is touch. We need to be touched to enjoy a healthy mind, body and soul.
A baby deprived of touch will become sick. That deprivation will delay their growth and development. The babies who are touched, however, grow a lot faster and healthier.
We connect through the power of touch.
A hand on the shoulder is often greater comfort than words. I know that when I’m stressed, the gentle caress of my husband’s hand on my forehead quietens my frenzied mind.
Our Lord gave us the sense of touch to comfort one another. He gave us this gift to heal one another. He gave us this treasure so that together we might feel the world and praise our God for his countless blessings.
And God created us so that we can feel the gentle touch of His Spirit on our hearts. This touch tells us we aren’t alone. It tells us we are loved. It tells us we are saved.
Taste is the fourth sense I’m looking at this week in my five day exploration of the senses.
Have you ever read any food reviews? They are often filled with flowery descriptions that include the presentation of the dish, the texture, the colour and whether it’s been properly seasoned. Very rarely do they ever describe the actual taste of the dish except to say it was good, bad or otherwise. They describe the whole experience.
This is because no one can accurately describe the taste of something unless the reader has already tasted the dish or something similar. It’s why so many things taste like chicken. It’s the closest comparison people can make that matches their understanding of an unusual dish.
For example, the only way I can describe vegemite to someone who has never met its distinct flavour, is to detail the key ingredients. I can explain to you that it’s salty because there is a large amount of salt in it. Most people know what salt tastes like, so I know you will begin to gain a vague inkling about vegemite. I can add that it can taste rather yeasty as well. You might think that means it tastes like bread, or perhaps beer. Neither is exact. You won’t truly know what it tastes like unless you find a jar of the gnarly stuff and brave a taste test.
Taste to the tongue is like colour to the eye. If you’ve never experienced anything like it, then you won’t be able to fully understand it or even appreciate it regardless of how well someone might be able to describe it. So too is our faith.
We can describe our faith to someone. We can explain what Jesus did for us. We can offer encouragement based on God’s word. We can teach Christian truths. We can tell people that God loves them and we can tell them how much God has changed our lives. We can even show them. But they can’t truly understand what faith is before they take that leap into God’s arms.
Some people call themselves experts on the scriptures. Some dedicate their lives to researching the historical accuracy of biblical events. Some attend church every Sunday. But if they haven’t accepted Christ into their lives, then they are not saved and they have no real understanding of what faith means.
To be saved they must take that step themselves. We can’t do it for them. We can promote God’s Kingdom, we can pray for them, but only God can change their heart and only they can decide to accept what God offers.
Today is the third day of my five day exploration of the senses. Today’s sense is smell.
Some smells can make us gag, like my brother’s socks after he’s played tennis on a hot summer day. Some smells can warn us of danger, like a gas leak in the barbeque. But the most precious smells are those aromas that evoke poignant memories.
When I catch the fragrance of a rose I think of the day my husband proposed to me. I think of the love in his eyes every time he looks at me. I think of his devotion. I think of his faithfulness. I am warmed by these memories and our marriage is strengthened. Because of a smell.
Whenever I smell a chocolate cake cooking in the oven I’m taken back to my childhood when my mum used to bake. I treasure those memories. They fill me with thoughts of love and safety. This is not to say my childhood was a picture postcard one. Perhaps from the outside it might have seemed so, but without going into it, I can assure you it was not. But when I catch the waft of chocolaty goodness, I’m not transported to the ick in my past. Ick has no place with chocolate (unless you mix it with lycees or coffee, but that’s a whole other story). Instead I’m taken to the good places, the happy places, the places that warm my heart.
Philippians 4:8 says think of all that is good. God has given us a way to help us to do just that through the gift of smell.
Continuing the study of the senses, today I will explore the sense of hearing.
When I was very young I had a condition which damaged my hearing. I was almost deaf and didn’t know it. I had learnt to read lips and no one knew. But I became extremely shy because I didn’t always understand what people were saying. I believed I was stupid. Others thought I was rude because I didn’t always respond to them. So I retreated into a shell where I couldn’t cause any anger or earn any ridicule.
Then my mum discovered the problem and the doctors operated. When I woke after surgery I cried and I cried because every sound seemed to boom in my ears. This was my new normal. I could hear again. Because I was so young I hadn’t realised how much I’d been missing.
I thank the Lord for this hearing. I could at last understand the things that went on around me. I was no longer lost in a muffled world.
If you have the gift of hearing, then I urge you to use it.
Listen to the wind in the trees.
Listen to the birds in the neighbourhood.
Listen to the ocean waves breaking on the shore or the traffic roaring by.
Listen to God’s voice. Hear His whispers. Respond to His call.
God has given us the gift of five senses with which we can experience the world around us. This week I’ll be doing a 5 day ‘study’ on these senses. Ok, so ‘study’ may be too strong a word, but I will explore a sense a day just to see where it takes me. Today’s sense is sight.
I think of sight as an artist’s tool. We see and then we interpret. What one person sees is not always the same as what another person sees. One might see the kindness in a stranger’s eyes, whereas another might only see the stranger’s filthy clothes. What do you see?
Through sight we can perceive only brokenness and grow discouraged or we can behold God’s creation and rejoice.
We can witness God’s love in action, or we focus only on our failings.