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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

My Christmas Poem: At Christmas Time

At Christmas Time
                                                           

String the lights upon the tree,
Place a candy cane for you and me.
Fix the stockings to the wall,
Hang the tinsel up the hall.

Sing a carol by the beach,
Make pavlova in the heat.
Cook the turkey or the prawns,
Wrap the presents, mow the lawns.

Kiss and hug the family,
Give what we can to the needy.
Pray for strength for the sick,
Remember loved ones that we miss.

For our God has sent His Son,
Jesus Christ the Peaceful One.
He who knows our joys and pain,
Gave His life, our life to gain.

So, hold hands with our neighbour,
Unite and seek the Risen Saviour.
Open our hearts to the One above,
 Celebrate Christ, God's gift of Love,
At Christmas time.

by Jennifer Ann 

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 

 Glossary: Pavlova is a meringue dessert.
   Prawns are shrimps. 






Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Tale of Sally and Sue and the Tree with Lights


There was once a woman called Sally who lived in a place called "the lucky country", where the standard of living was high, there were no wars and eduction was free. Sally had a partner who was as successful as he was nice. she also had three wonderful children and a job that she enjoyed. Her mortgage was payed off and not only that her garden looked totally awesome (the best garden in the street, for sure). Sally worked hard to make her life the best that it could be.

                                                    SALLY FELT CONTENT & HAPPY

Until.......... she noticed her work colleague who also appeared CONTENT & HAPPY in fact sometimes she looked more content & happy than even Sally herself. Not that Sally minded others being content & happy but this woman Sue had in Sally's opinion a "crap life". Sues' marriage had not worked, her kids struggled at school and financially things were tight and Sally had heard that her garden was even full of weeds. Sally knew that there was no way that Sue should look anywhere near content & happy.

As Sally watched Sue, month after month her puzzlement and dissatisfaction grew. So one day in the tea room Sally finally blurted out the question.

"Hey Sue, I know things aren't going great for you, but you look really okay about it all. I don't understand because if it was me I'd be angry and unhappy with my life. Is there a love interest we don't know about or have you won lotto?"

"No, none of those, I'm okay even though things are quite difficult for me because I don't belong here." 

 "In the tea room?"

"No, on earth. I belong to the Kingdom of Light. You see there are two kingdoms and I belong to the one that lasts forever, where I am eternally loved, where there won't be health or financial issues or crying because of kids misbehaving. And the King who rules this Kingdom is love, He's good, He's just, He's truth and the King helps me every day to thank Him for all He has given me, its because of Him that I'm okay on the inside no matter whats happening around me."

Sally taken aback decided to just humour her, so very casually she asked.

"I'm not seeing it, but lets say there are two kingdoms, so whats the other one like?"

"Gosh, oh the other kingdom is terrible its like darkness, the king there has already been defeated by my King but he pretends that he rules all the earth. But he just wants to trick people and destroy their lives, he hates everybody, there is only pain and suffering and darkness and eternal death, and he loves war and hate."

"Okay this is my problem though" said Sally, feeling more unhappy and discontent than ever "If you belong to the Lovey dovey King and I'm guessing I'm in the darkness hatred zone with the bad king, how come my life looks pretty cruisy and great and yours, well doesn't?"

"Well, that's called a false sense of security because the king of the dark kingdom lulls you into thinking that this earth is so good that there is no life after death and you don't feel that you need the King of Light."

Sue went on as Sally just watched her not sure if all this was believable or not whatever the case, Sue had definitely missed the evolution class where there was no fantasy king stuff.

" Even though things aren't always great for me here, I do have the King who walks beside me and encourages me every day. My life is secure in His love. I do believe that He died so I could live. He has rescued me from the kingdom of darkness into His own Kingdom of Light. He makes me content and happy"

Sue finished and ended by saying "you should think about it."


"Yeah maybe." Sally replied, not sure what to make of it all.

Sally and Sue went home and unknown to each other, they both drove past the same tree, all sparkling with white fairy lights, shining against the jet blackness of the night.

Sally did see the tree, it did make her think of the two kingdoms, after all she like everyone worried about death and the after life and bad things happening but at the moment she had things under control perhaps later she'd think about it seriously I mean it would be nice to be loved by the Awesome King,but who has the time, what would her partner say? Life was working out. It's a pretty tree though, nice lights. She zoomed off toward the darkness determined to be content & happy.

Sue also saw the tree, wow what a beautiful tree it reminds me of how safe and good it is to belong to the Kingdom of Light and Love and even though the darkness is so big it can never put out the Light, Thank you so much my King and please help Sally to want to know You. She too drove off into the darkness, content & happy.

"Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share the inheritance of his Holy people in the kingdom of light. He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13,14












Thursday, 17 April 2014

F is for FORGIVE not for FORGET.


For me forgiveness is an action that is one of the hardest things to do and the easiest to be confused about. Here are a few of my thoughts about what forgiveness is and isn't.

F is for FORGIVE not for FORGET
I once heard an African preacher wisely say "If you can forgive and forget then really not much has happened to you." I agree. Why would we forget something that has irrevocably changed us. It becomes a turning point by which our lives revolve, we can't forget it. No where in the Bible does God call on us to forget the wrongs suffered, the key is probably not our forgetting but how we remember these wrongs. Do we remember them through the lens of forgiveness or the lens of hatred?

O is for OTHERS  
This is a bit obvious or is it? We forgive others, those friends, family, strangers who have done us wrong. It is easy to recognise when someone we dislike has wronged us but if it is someone close to us we can be blinded by our love and make every excuse under the sun for that person. If someone is habitually doing wrong to you or someone you know then they need to be told, it needs to be brought into the light and not hidden. If not the person doing the wrong becomes a tyrant and the person who is hurt becomes a victim. (Luke 17: 3,4) A wrong is a wrong is a wrong no matter who is responsible.

R is for REPENT
Repent this is where the rubber hits the road to use a popular phrase. To repent is to accept you have committed a wrong in " heart, word or deed", to be sorry for that wrong, to then turn from that wrong and where possible make restitution for that wrong. I do believe that Jesus teaches us to forgive, everyone, take the Lords prayer for instance(Matt 6:12-15).
There are 2 issues that arise from this 1. Often the person who has wronged you, couldn't care less, refuses to admit they are to blame or even worse twists the whole thing around and blames you. They are in no way repentant. Do I still have to forgive them? Yes, the Bible says "yes". Does that feel harsh? Yes, it does. 2. The wrongs and sins perpetrated by others can be devastatingly evil and damaging. Does the Bible say forgive? Yes. Does that seem harsh? Yes, terribly and even inhumanely harsh.

                                                                 BUT

G is for GOD the CHRIST 
There is a cultural expression that is true, "to err is human but to forgive is divine." Without Christ I know I could not and would not forgive others. But with Christ I can. For Jesus Christ willingly died an excruciatingly painful and totally unfair death on the cross and by His perfect life he not only turned the anger of God away from me but He absorbed the punishment for all my wrongs the ultimate punishment being eternal death. He then rises because death can't ever hold Jesus down and turns to me and you and offers "I(Jesus) am willing to forgive you, everything, should you repent and accept this forgiveness" (Colossians 1:13,14). For me and many others we said and continue to say "yes, please forgive us", (Romans 10:9)."
But here am I now faced with forgiving someone who has really tried to wreck my life. Its like sitting at your own kitchen table, in pajamas and your bare feet touching the cold floor. Across from you sits the one or ones who have unspeakably damaged you and your life. You don't want to look at them but you cannot avoid staring at them because their evil deeds have become strong thick ropes that no human can break that bind you and that person to that kitchen table, as it spins on a pivot suspended in time. But as believers there is also Someone else standing beside you, his hand is upon your shoulder. It's Jesus. You turn to Him and say "Lord Jesus I can't forgive this person but I choose Your way please could you enable me to forgive them?"
You feel terribly deflated as you wait for Jesus to release the ropes of the wrongdoer and watch him walk away free. But to your relief and joy Jesus releases your bonds and the burden of holding a grudge, lightens, your vengeful and hateful thoughts, dim. Jesus stands you up and says "Go into the sunshine and the garden enjoy your life free from your own hatred and the evil that has been done against you, for I have enabled you to forgive."
You rise from the table and run to the door, Jesus has done what you couldn't do. You can't help but take a look back, you are waiting for Jesus to release the bonds of the other one, but He does not He sits at the table now where you once sat across from the one who has hurt you. The ropes lie limp they can't touch Jesus but the other person is still bound and caught in his own evil unable to escape because he will not repent, he refuses forgiveness and unless he accepts Christ he is tied to that situation spinning in space, condemned. (Matt 21:33-44).

I is for INNER
To forgive is firstly an inner transaction of the will and heart between you and God. The Apostle Stephen when he was being stoned expresses forgiveness beautifully when he cries out to God "do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:60). It may not be necessary to tell someone you have forgiven them or perhaps it is. Ask God to make you wise unto the circumstances of which is best. God will cause your outer life to show that you have inwardly forgiven.

V is for VICTORY
The victory of forgiveness is assured and has eternal consequences. Evil has not won but forgiveness has through Christ (Romans 12:21). Remember feelings can't always be trusted and it takes time. Sometimes we rush into the kitchen and we allow our hatred and hurt to well up in our lives. But Jesus who is still there looks at us with compassion and says "It's okay because I'm taking care of this on your behalf. You don't belong in here now, go into the garden and live free from the pain and the hatred." For it is up to God to avenge not for us.  (Romans 12:19-20).

E is for EASTER
 Because that is when the Son of God showed us the ultimate in forgiveness. Let us this Easter accept His forgiveness and forgive others through his strength. (Matt 26:28).

            FORGIVE OTHERS and REPENT through GOD have INNER VICTORY this EASTER

                                                              FORGIVE 
 N.B. I have attempted to describe the inner consequences of forgiving others. If people find themselves in a situation where crimes have been committed then they must report it to the appropriate authorities. If it is dangerous emotionally, physically, spiritually to remain in communication with someone who has hurt you then you must make sure there are appropriate boundaries.


 

Friday, 21 February 2014

ARE YOU A SUCCESS OR FAILURE?

 
Lying down for the afternoon, my dog's definition of success.

 "Therefore we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."                                          2 Corinthians 5:9

Are you a success or failure? Well it is going to depend on how you define success? Our world often defines success as having financial security, having a great job that you love, having a great spouse, wonderful kids, fantastic friends, looking attractive, etc. Sure that's nice and who wouldn't want those things and more.

Even if those things do happen for you, does that make you a success? It can be easy to feel like a success BUT in Gods' eyes are you? What about when the plans, goals and dreams don't work out.


Perhaps your job is boring, you may have thought you would be married by now but you're not, your relationship with your spouse is less than ideal, your kids seem to be running wild, perhaps you have had a diagnosis of a long term illness, or like Joni Eareckson Tada {www.joniandfriends.org} your life is now confined to a wheelchair. Your dream, is just that, a dream, are you now no longer successful?

The beautiful and most wonderful thing about God is that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter how frustrating and annoying or exciting and useful we can always, every second of every day be a success before God. Just as we are, rich or poor, young or old, literate or illiterate, healthy or ill, we can be a success in God's eyes. Because I believe that His definition of success is posed in this question, "Did I please God today?" As Paul says in the bible quote, it should be our "ambition" to please the Lord.

Choosing to please God does NOT depend on my circumstances, it does NOT depend on other people. What it does depend on is God and me. I, as a believer can choose to please God and God enables me by strengthening me through his Holy Spirit, I certainly can't do it in my own strength.

If you are wondering what pleasing God looks like, according to the Bible it is showing and growing the fruit of  the Spirit in your life. Fruit like, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control. {Galations 5:22} and to NOT be involved with immorality, impurity, sorcery, outbursts of anger, envying, drunkenness, etc.

I find that when I choose to please God, through His help and abandoning my own thoughts of success, God fills me with a real sense of peace and contentment. Pleasing God, releases me from feelings of failure, or emptiness that I otherwise would have to contend with if I allowed my own or this worlds definitions of success to guide me. Pleasing God is a truth that I need to think on every day, its a long term plan. That's my challenge for those who follow Christ, are you choosing to please God every day, with God's help, is that success for you? And for those who do not follow Christ, how do you define success? Is it working for you?