Friday, 30 September 2011

Up, Up, & Awaaaaayyyy!!

For just a little less than the next two weeks my homies and I will be visiting lands far away and taking some tropical air, as they used to say in the olden days. Thank you to the faithful who dare to visit here, and to the fellow tweeps I enjoy contact with. You make my low-tech world a better place :) It's pretty awesome, since high-tech and I need a bit more practice and I do appreciate your journey with me.

Since that is the absolute truth, please visit somewhere nice in the meantime until I return, and know that I'll be thinking of you from the forced relaxation chamber in the skies above...

The laugh you never asked for

Talk Box

Tune of the week

Ree, ranch queen extraordinaire

Amazing Radio Goodness

Get me outa here

Guaranteed boredom killer :)

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” Philippians 1:9-10 NLT

“Et voici ce que je demande dans mes prières: c'est que votre amour gagne de plus en plus en pleine connaissance et en parfait discernement pour que vous puissiez discerner ce qui est important. Ainsi vous serez purs et irréprochables au jour du Christ,” Philippiens 1:9-10 BDS

Thursday, 29 September 2011

The God From Whom All Good Things Flow

After the last post which was about God making bad things happen, above and beyond the truth of that is the Bible's confirmation that He is indeed the God of all good things. The very foundation of us being here is His love for us. He created us for love, and to love Him, for relationship.

Relationships built on chaos generally aren't much fun. It's far better to be in a loving, two-way place of response and communication, and God  longs to bless us and show us His unending kindness. If ever you forget why you're here and the day seems too long, too hard, too bad to ever end, remind yourself of a few facts from His Word.

Platitudes don't last, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." Psalm 86v15

"For You, O Lord, are good, and ready to forgive [our trespasses, sending them away, letting them go completely and forever]; and You are abundant in mercy and loving-kindness to all those who call upon You." Psalm 86v5 AMP

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1v17 (so good they said it twice!)

"For He foreordained us (destined us, planned in love for us) to be adopted (revealed) as His own children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the purpose of His will [ because it pleased Him and was His kind intent]--..." Ephesians 1v5

"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. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile." Jeremiah 29v11-14

Jeremiah 29 is a favourite and it's easy to undertand why. The God Who made us does have a good plan for His created. Even when all material things are not going according to our plan, we can still know the most amazingly insane, incomprehensible peace and love and even joy in the midst of the biggest troubles we've ever faced.

God's love is astounding, and most days (for me) the proof of that is found in His mercy. I just don't understand it yet He offers it completely. God's grace makes my spirit man fall out in dead faints of awe on the days my words have been harsh, when my actions have been disrespectful, when I behave like someone better left out on a Monday night for the garbage man to collect in the morning with the Green Bin. Why should He love me or keep being good to me? How I wish I could just be presentable, but even if I was, my goodness and righteousness would be as valuable to Him as stinky rags.

God's amazing ways are too numerable to list, but they are there in His Word for all to see and embrace. Ah, what treasures lie within the covers! Whatever you need He can supply and will do so in accordance with His will. No wonder they call Him the Alpha & Omega. God covers everything in every way.

Even me :) Can't ask for more than that!

Decide: What do you love most about God? Is it time you paused long enough to tell Him?

"And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us" Romans 8v30-34

Et ceux qu'il a prédestinés, il les a aussi appelés; et ceux qu'il a appelés, il les a aussi justifiés; et ceux qu'il a justifiés, il les a aussi glorifiés. Que dirons-nous donc à l'égard de ces choses? Si Dieu est pour nous, qui sera contre nous? Lui, qui n'a point épargné son propre Fils, mais qui l'a livré pour nous tous, comment ne nous donnera-t-il pas aussi toutes choses avec lui? Qui accusera les élus de Dieu? C'est Dieu qui justifie!  Qui les condamnera? Christ est mort; bien plus, il est ressuscité, il est à la droite de Dieu, et il intercède pour nous!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Does God Make Bad Things Happen?

This question was posed in a Sunday morning church service not long after our current pastor arrived. He was met with a collective resounding, "No."

I waited for the quiet and shouted out, "Yes."

Someone behind me gasped. The irony is that someone else laughed, and I still smile to think about it. You hopefully won't hear me gloat too often, but on this occasion I am able to say I was right and everyone else was wrong.

Forgive me for going all Christianese cliché platitudey on you, but the new preacher also split the hair (if you want to call it that) by asking, “Can we say that God allows bad things to happen? Or does He truly make bad things happen?”

This time there was wisely no response from the congregation. They’d been off-set, and rightly so. Just because you’re a Christian, it doesn’t mean life will be a bed of roses. In fact, quite the opposite sometimes (as the Apostles would attest).

In my own life, I knew God had made “bad” things happen to get my attention, to keep me from going down wrong paths and to get me back on track where He was about to regain the control I said I’d give Him in the first place.

 Check out the scriptures and decide for yourself if the question posed is true.

“...when the LORD binds up the bruises of His people and heals the wounds He inflicted.” Isaiah 30v26b.

Or check out this section of a song from Deuteronomy 32:

39 “See now that I myself am he!
   There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
   I have wounded and I will heal,
   and no one can deliver out of my hand.
40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear:
   As surely as I live forever,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
   and my hand grasps it in judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
   and repay those who hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
   while my sword devours flesh:
the blood of the slain and the captives,
   the heads of the enemy leaders.”

 Sounds like something bad is going to happen, does it not? Yeah, let’s sing about that.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” 1 Samuel 16v14

If the Lord can send an angel, demons also remain under His bidding. Just because they got cast out of Heaven doesn’t mean they’re on their own, right?

“But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb.” 1 Samuel 1v5 (The Lord later opened her womb and Samuel was a good result for all of Israel!)

Make no mistake. God can and does make bad things happen. Why? If we are honest, we don’t need three sermons, four chats with the pastor and an appearance from Michael the archangel to figure out the answer (even though a direct appearance might occasionally help).

All things in this imperfect world remain under God’s control, even while some of what happens is the direct result of the actions of sinful man. We make bad things happen all the time, everyday, non-stop and without fail. In addition, the world is under a curse of sin and it's no fun. His purposes are not always for us to know, yet sometimes we aren’t wholly obedient to Him and need a little realigning, and really that is the main theme behind the majority of ‘bad things’ in the Bible.

In 1998 I was diagnosed with leukaemia and God healed me but I still had to persevere with two years of chemo. In my spirit from the get-go, I knew that whichever way it turned out, I belonged to God. He created me, so why should the pot ask the Potter what His intentions are? My being diagnosed with cancer opened up answers for a friend who’d had the exact same kind about ten years before. Suddenly the inability to understand why it had happened to him was replaced with understanding, and in his words, “It was so I could help you!” For him, the last vestiges of confusion seemed to fall right away, and it was a beautiful thing.

At the heart of whatever difficulty we have in accepting God can and does make bad things happen lies our human belief that nothing should go wrong when our perception of God is that He wouldn’t do a thing like that. The truth roughs up our belief system. God wouldn’t do it, but He’d allow it, right? His Jeremiah 29 plans are for our future and hope and all that, yes. That is His plan. Key word = plan.

Check these things out in the Word. Next time you read a passage, don’t let your trained subconscious mind tell you anything other than the truth. God is all-powerful. We’re not mice on the treadmill any more than He is Father Christmas, doing only what we ask to keep our lives feeling fulfilled.

The beauty is that He is a God of mercy—in fact, the only God of mercy across the vast board of “religions”! Let’s not forget that He sent Jesus our way for His purpose of redemption, to save the world through Him and not to condemn the world, so you don’t need to fear or be afraid. When bad things come it could be for growth, for regaining your attention, for judgement/discipline, or some other reason. It might not even be about you, because you always wanted to be a vessel fit for His use, right? Between you and God, you will know.

Life happens. This is a whole week’s worth of topic, but for now...

Decide: Does knowing God does make bad things happen rub your faith up the wrong way? Are you able to pinpoint any time in your life where God has used a bad incident to capture your attention? Has a bad thing happened you couldn’t see a purpose for but made you grow because of it?

Jonah prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” Jonah 4v2

Il adressa cette prière à l'Eternel:
   ---Ah, Eternel! Je l'avais bien dit quand j'étais encore dans mon pays. Et c'est pour prévenir cela que je me suis enfui à Tarsis. Car je savais que tu es un Dieu plein de grâce et de compassion, lent à te mettre en colère et riche en amour, et que tu renonces volontiers aux menaces que tu profères.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Step In Anytime!

Yesterday at Bible study we were talking through a good friend's situation when a text message came through to one of the girls' phones. The girl read it the message, and within two minutes my phone went off. I assumed it would be the same message from the same person (you had to be there), but it turned out to read like this. Names of people and towns have been changed but the message is otherwise shown as appeared.

Hey Alan, sorry to txt u and bug u with this
sally has runaway think she's in town has no
money phone only one set of clothes has
totally lost it I'm seeing councillor today
20min away to talk to her about what to do

Hmmm. Needless to say, my name is not Alan.

I read it to the girls at Bible study and we wondered at it. Things like this positively bait my curiosity because I'm a fiction writer and real life is always stronger than fiction. But I also felt instantly sad at the nature of the message. To me it sounded like a broken home, but who knows? I replied:

Sorry this is not Alan, but will pray u find her & soon!

She (assuming it's a she because it’s the kind of message a mother would send and fathers generally don’t go willingly to councillors) replied asking, "Who have I got?" The cop in our study group at the time advised I not reply. It's very handy having a cop in our group. Anyway, I figured that if this mystery messager wanted to know who I was, he or she could ring. So far they haven't. And I hoped they found both Alan and Sally. What got me was that the towns mentioned are right where I live, and my mobile number is not the type that can be easily entered incorrectly because it’s simple.

When I got home I checked my records of the clients I’d recently seen, thinking they might have messaged me by mistake. It'd explain a lot. But no number was forthcoming. At the time an overwhelming sense of needing to help caught me, but I ignored it. However it bode the question, "When is it right to intervene?"

Let's face it. Life on this earth is messier than ever before. No one in their right minds wants to bite off more than they can chew and get mired in someone else's unnecessary muckups, of which there can be many and seem to spiral downward as co-dependency begins to encroach. As Christians, how can we identify when there's a genuine need for help, a true and sincere call for us to introduce God into a situation that needs Him so desperately, a situation where He may otherwise not have entered? How can we recognise the moment we need to step into the lives of complete strangers?

I hope God will make it clear because I know He would make us able by the empowerment of His Spirit. He made us to show His love and that by actions as well as words.

Decide: The last time a random event happened to you, did you behave well? Did you consult the Holy Spirit to see if you needed to take action and risk being a light in this oppressively dark world?

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5v14,15

"Vous êtes la lumière du monde. Une ville au sommet d'une colline n'échappe pas aux regards.
Il en est de même d'une lampe: si on l'allume, ce n'est pas pour la mettre sous une mesure à grains: au contraire, on la fixe sur un pied de lampe pour qu'elle éclaire tous ceux qui sont dans la maison."

Real Christian Fiction Is About...

Tonight I left a post on The Steve Laube Agency website in regards to what makes Christian fiction truly Christian. What pushes the envelope and what cuts a clear line as being distinctly the work of a bonafide Bible-believer? Leaving a comment went without question because it's a topic I feel very strongly about. The amount of times I have bought Christian books and my hairs have stood on end with what I was reading goes beyond number. My comments are shown below, and I would encourage you on click the Laube link above and leave a comment of your own. Feedback is valuable.

I’m so glad I saw this because I have a lot to say but won’t say it all. I’ll attempt to sum up by a comment I heard this morning when I dropped my kids off at school. It’s book festival day where the students get to dress up as their favourite character from a book, and to be frank, I was feeling a little bit shuddery at the amount of witches, Harry Potters, and fairies walking around. A 15yr old high school student walked past me with his friends and I over heard him say, “We go to this amazing Christian school and everyone is dressing up as witches and wizards? I wonder if anyone will dress up as Jesus.”

Wow. I almost turned around and said, “Dude, I am so with you on that!”

In my opinion, the same goes for Christian fiction. We’re in the world but not of it, supposedly. Apparently we’re meant to think about whatever is pure and lovely and edifying. Shining our light is okay as long as it’s done when peeking out from under the bushel just so we don’t offend anybody…

For me, a decent Christian fiction will be edifying while on the level, it will point readers to Jesus without reading like a devotional (because if we want a devo, we’ll buy one), and for cryin’ out loud it won’t contain actual swear words or characters screaming OMG and it won’t be endorsing stuff that wastes our time here on earth that we simply just don’t need to spend time thinking about. Life is short and for the sake of God, we ought to live like it even while we enjoy it. Yes, there are people with real and devastating problems, but the details don’t need to be relived in brilliant colour to make a scene ‘real’.

Some of my fave authors are Linda Chaikin, Susan May Warren, and yes, Karen Ball because their morals are undeniable and the message is clear and able to be given to those who don’t yet adhere to faith. My thoughts are not limited to the ones here, but suffice it to say, I don’t like reading novels that feel like a waste of time because I could have bought them at a local bookstore. We don’t need to be seeing how far we can push it just to appear edgy and world-savvy.

God made us smarter than that.

Decide: In your opinion, what makes or defines a book as Christian? Don't you think you should be able to tell our work apart from the world's? Isn't this important? Where do you draw the line?

"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?" Matthew 7v16
Vous les reconnaîtrez à leurs fruits. Est-ce que l'on cueille des raisins sur des buissons d'épines ou des figues sur des ronces?

A Medium That's Bad For Your Health

I am loving being involved with KYB, and coming from what is already a rich Bible-based background, I must say it's only getting richer. Understanding the nuances and motives of characters within Bible history opens up their actions and beliefs incredibly, and I recommend KYB for anyone trying to figure out why the characters did what they did. The studies also help reveal more of the Bible's relevance for us today.

Some things the ancients did are slightly more obvious and in less need of explanation. For example, every Christian with a good foundation will know you don't consult mediums, spiritists, star signs, etc, because they detract from God's sovereignty when He is the One we ought to be consulting for true truth, and closely at that. The final study of 1 Samuel this week raises a good point with the question based on 1 Samuel 28v11-25.

Study 9, Q10: In your opinion, is God good to withhold the details of our future from us? Why or why not?

I recommend reading up in 1 Samuel for context you will enjoy, but the gist of it is this. Saul was Israel's idea of a king in stature and appearance. His family was affluent and he was taller than everyone else. Absolute king material with a touch of Hollywood... er, Bollywood? Inside, he was completely under-prepared for the position (and if I can add a personal thought, I don't think Saul actually wanted to be king). He would share the leadership of Israel with Samuel who would remain their "Divine Intervention".

Saul stuffs up as well as a human can (think 1 Samuel 15) by mostly obeying instead of fully obeying, a bit like Westley in the Princess Bride who is only mostly dead. Unfortunately for Saul, his kingship is fully dead from here on and the Lord departs from him. Fast forward a bit and we see just how true this is, when Saul can no longer inquire of Samuel who is also fully dead, and decides to wake him up by going to a medium to bring Samuel up (that's what the Bible says, 1 Samuel 28v11).

The KYB study book draws reader attention to Leviticus 19v31 and 20v27 in relation to the lady medium's fears she could be killed for helping bring up Samuel, but when she does Saul's bidding and Samuel appears, the old faithful prophet's words bring Saul his final message. Saul gets what he wants in hearing from Samuel, but it's not what he wants to hear.

For your "mostly obedience" against the Amalekites, tomorrow you and your sons will die in battle against the Philistines, and the army of Israel will be handed over to them.

Wow. I'm so glad I asked about that one. Can I book an appointment for the same time and place next week? Then again, you might have to bring me up...

The medium tries to console him and even pampers him a little because mediums are lovely misguided people, but Saul is probably wondering if there's any point to dinner when tomorrow he won't even be around anymore. Last meals can have that effect on the psyche, right? Let's face it. Consoling Saul is all she can do, and it's nowhere near enough.

Refer to the above question again, and ask yourself next time you want to know what the future holds if it's reeeaaallly something you need to know. My answer to Q10 was this: Yes, God is GOOD to withhold the future from us! Too much info either makes us afraid or makes us impatient. We really don't always handle it in the best way, and it removes God's supreme authority.

If we knew everything, we'd have no need of God. Be content not knowing and act in faith, and seek the Holy Spirit's help to enable you to do your best to fully obey. Man! I need that one as much as anyone.

Decide: What has happened in your life that you were oh-so-glad you didn't know was coming? Were you grounded in faith in God, or did you get totally blown out of the water? Did it increase your character better than if you'd known about it?

"When the Israelites along the valley and those across the Jordan saw that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons had died, they abandoned their towns and fled. And the Philistines came and occupied them." 1 Samuel 31v7

Quand les Israélites qui habitaient de l'autre côté de la vallée et ceux qui s'étaient fixés au-delà du Jourdain virent que l'armée d'Israël était en déroute et que Saül et ses fils étaient morts, ils abandonnèrent les villes et prirent la fuite. Les Philistins allèrent s'y établir.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Why others need grace

This morning I experienced a minor drama of the unnecessary kind that quickly becomes frustrating. Naturally it involved telecommunications giant Telstra. This is how it went.

I logged into an old email account and a prompt came to update my backup email address, the backup that gets used in the event you forget a password and need to be able to access so you can keep doing things in life. When I went to change this, the backup wouldn't let me sign in. Ha. I'd suffered this glitch before, so I persevered and knew that somewhere I'd be signed in. It was telling me I was but wouldn't let me view the information needed.

Grrr. I rang Telstra/Bigpond on a "1800" number shown on the website when things went wrong and tried to sort it out, got a very lovely girl on the other (offshore) end I'm assuming was Philippino but that's ok because my high school teacher was Philippino except he didn't have the American accent like this girl did. Philippinos are cool in my book thanks to my teacher, who was a legend, but has nothing to do with Telstra, so let's go on.

She tried to sort it but couldn't because I'd rung the wrong department. Kindly she put me through and gave me the "13" number I could ring in future, which I am in no way going to ring because that would cost, and their glitch should not cost me, right? So she transferred me.

I was put on hold and a message came: "Please feel free to give us feedback on our service because we would love to hear what you have to say."


What I have to say, you would not like to hear.

If I wanted a trip on a merry-go-round, I'd have gone to the nearest theme park where the politicians work and got on.

Scratchy music began, something that sounded like it was being played through a strobe light. I put it on speaker, put the phone in the washing basket, and proceeded to hang out my washing. After a record of two minutes short (whoa, you guys have improved! and I got six towels hung plus a rag!) a much clearer voice came and it was the first girl politely telling me she was handing me over to the new girl. I thanked her. She'd done her part well.

The next girl started talking about my current email, which I did not want her to touch lest it be stuffed up also, not that it would be her fault, but I just didn't want what wasn't broke being fixed if y'know what I mean. We went round the merry-go-round as I tried to help her understand where I was coming from because her accent proved she probably wasn't Philippino though she was also very polite. Communication is key. Accessing different words helps.

To cut the story short because it would just bore you, my experience was a giant communicado reminder not to get frustrated because it's JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. It's not the girls' fault, it's not my fault, and it's the fault of Telstra which is convenient because IT'S JUST WHAT THEY DO. Their web is truly tangled and I’d hate to have to try to un-weave it, and am sure there are poor souls attempting to try and do just that.

Extending grace is a necessary part of life, and come the day I have to deal with Telstra again, I'll have to extend that grace all over again even if only for my own sanity. Whether or not you knew this, getting uptight and frustrated only blocks your ears. You get deadlocked and literally unable to compute more information. Others need to be able to deal with you in an orderly manner and you need to permit it because although you might convince yourself you’re pretty darn amazing, you are (in fact) only as amazing as the person you’re dealing with, regardless of your PHD. By chance should really truly happen to be more amazing than the other person or vice-versa, extending graciousness will help immensely.

You don't need me to tell you why others need grace because you know why you need it yourself. Grace, like merry-go-rounds we don't need is a part of life. May you own the ability to groove in a flow and extend it to others today.

Decide: Do you struggle with showing grace, particularly when you're frustrated? Doesn't it help to know that you need it as much as anyone?

"But He gives us more and more grace ( power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)." James 4v6

"...mais bien plus grande est la grâce qu'il nous accorde. --- Voici donc ce que déclare l'Ecriture: Dieu s'oppose aux orgueilleux, mais il accorde sa grâce aux humbles."

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Why I Need Grace

After my recent 'faux pas' (as she so kindly put it) concerning the age of a friend, safe to say I felt like a right dork. In case I'd managed to blind more than one person, I am fallible. Quite horribly so, at times more than others.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seems you are travelling along very nicely, thank you, and then all of a sudden (so it would seem), the apple cart is upset and there's tragic 'faux pases' on every level of the scale of 1 to 10? (faux pases is incorrect French, but stay with me here...)

What I'm talking about is this. You make a promise that you say you'll do something, and because you didn't write it down that instant, you forgot and it didn't happen, thus the person who was depending on you missed out on something important to them.

On top of that, you grossly miscalculated the age of a friend on your blog (sorry Jen).

On top of that, you took too long getting to a place you needed to be and there was an outbreak of breakdown at the other end.

On top of that you lost something important and searched high and low, unable to find what you needed like air - or so you thought. There's only one place it should be, so where the heck is it!!??

On top of that, you ran out of time in the day thanks to a dozen smaller interruptions that ate into your time budget and left you awake in bed at night, recalculating the day to come.

On top of that, you behaved selfishly to get what you wanted and then felt noticeably yucker afterward because you realised you told yourself you'd never do that again.

On top of that, you were helping someone as a favour and got a little terse when they treated you like their servile entourage, then regretted being terse because we're called to love (yes, you can love with gritted teeth).

On top of that, you got a little slack in a couple of areas because you've already done this thing twenty-five million times before and if you have to care about it one more time, you're gonna pass out. Pass out, or suffer later on for lack of effort - decisions, decisions. Either way, it'll bite you in the butt if you're not giving the one hundred percent that's required again.

On top of that, you know you disappointed God in a number of ways and go to bed helplessly hopeful, falling back on His mercy that is new every morning.

Oh, you get the picture. Sometimes I feel like that has been my week. The point is, when the little bits and pieces all pile up, we need somewhere to go. If I go anywhere else but to God (read: shopping, emails, friends' houses, coffee shops, and yes - even writing), I'm never happy. I need His grace and His forgiveness, and most of all His unrivalled reassurance that tomorrow will be better because He says it can be - if I will choose to believe Him and take Him at His Word.

My goodness. How much I LOVE His Word, my Bible. For me it's a whisper from my Creator, the promise He's paying attention to me after all. Staying near Him amidst life's busies is difficult, particularly when I'm not 'feeling' like I'm on the glory cloud. I need His grace, His anointed empowerment. I need it not just daily, but hourly and minutely, and even secondly.

If life was perfect, I would have no need of God, and that my friends, is the worst kind of existence of all. Am I really as bad as all this? God knows I am, and the ironic beauty of it is that He made me and bought me back knowing what and who He was getting. I am no surprise to Him, and yet He loves me.


Will I ever fully grasp the measure of it? I hope not. I might stop getting amazed :) When I am swamped by my own dorkdom, His grace is sufficient for me. Lord God, You know I need it!

Decide: Can you believe what God thinks of you? Can you believe He wants you for Himself? Can you believe His grace is yours for the taking? Bear in mind, you do have to take it and not just thank Him for it.

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10v22-23

Approchons-nous donc de Dieu avec un cœur droit, avec la pleine assurance que donne la foi, le c   ur purifié de toute mauvaise conscience, et le corps lavé d'une eau pure. Restons fermement attachés à l'espérance que nous reconnaissons comme vraie, car celui qui nous a fait les promesses est digne de confiance.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Why I Love Jennifer

I have this friend from church. Her uncanny resemblance to an overseas author friend of mine was what first caught my eye after she migrated from another church in town and showed up in our congregation. It nearly bowled me over when I heard her voice and accent were the same.

Jennifer is her name and you could say I loved her from the first. Ever since we met about a year ago, our friendship has steadily built as we are learning more about each other through brief encounters the old fashioned way - face to face. How old is she? She has told me but I forget. Safe to say she's well over 70.

Her husband has beaten her to Heaven, she drives a red Ford Fiesta "hot-hatch" (red makes it go faster), and the lady is never home. Imagine my surprise when she took the initiative and found me on email! There's a lot of older peeps who are tech immune. Last night Jennifer emailed me from her iPad!

What the...?

Every week she is right there in church, seated in the centre and usually with the "shouter-outers" who are also of the hoary generation. When I grow up, I want to be one of those ladies, the church staples who hold their heads high and offer encouragement to others in the midst. She's one of the experienced, seasoned humble people. They've lived and they're still here and praising without any signs of stopping.

Last night in our emails I teased her saying I would fit my diary to hers so we could catch up, since she is sooooo waaaaay busier than me. She does have a cat though (Eew), and says the cat is her cover (I said she was a spy. Her life is way too active, so there's only one explanation).

Jennifer's an inspiration to me because she doesn't stop! I want to be like her when I grow up. It's a reminder for me of how to live and to make the most of the life God gave us, especially today because my Mum just sent a text saying to pray for my Grandad who's been taken off to hospital. I've lost count of how many trips we're up to. His health is failing and the peace that comes from knowing he loves God is a comfort amid the sadness of knowing he's on the way out. Watching Nan get around the house is his idea of "living". Nan feels a little spied on, but he truly delights to watch the love of his life going about her housekeeping. This is equally as special to me as watching Jennifer never waste a minute.

I feel blessed and privileged to have these people around me, and though I wish this life didn't have to end the way it does, my heart reminds me this life is not the end, that those of us who believe have an even greater hope. Living with Eternity in mind is the biggest thing we live for and usually the reason believers choose to believe in the One God sent.

If you don't believe, why don't you? You should.

Decide: Growing old gracefully has many definitions, so what does it mean for you?

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3v12-14

Ce n'est pas que j'aie déjà remporté le prix, ou que j'aie déjà atteint la perfection; mais je cours, pour tâcher de le saisir, puisque moi aussi j'ai été saisi par Jésus Christ. Frères, je ne pense pas l'avoir saisi; mais je fais une chose: oubliant ce qui est en arrière et me portant vers ce qui est en avant, je cours vers le but, pour remporter le prix de la vocation céleste de Dieu en Jésus Christ.