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Monday, 16 December 2013

A Christmas Carol for the Soul - video Aimee Jean

I do love singing. I even remember singing to my father when he was sick as he lay on the couch in the living room. Being about 10 yrs old at the time, I’m sure I would have sung him a carol or two. I stationed myself on a chair  and proceeded to sing, checking after every verse, “Do you feel better now, dad?” He kindly assured me he did. 
Anyone who has heard me sing will feel a little sense of pity for my father as let’s just say, singing is not my talent. I’m the one who is always off pitch and when all is deadly silent bleats out a note which is all wrong, my kids are endlessly entertained by my inability to hold to the right key or to the right timing.
Now at 40+++ yrs, I have added feeling emotional when a particular piece of music moves me deeply in my soul. Yes, the children and husband are constantly amused but come on, I’m sure there are others of you out there who do the same. Aren’t there??? Anywhere ???
Now, I’m NOT deeply moved JUST because I’m tired from the weeks’ pressures which can at times overwhelm me, (no it is NOT menopause!!!). Equally it’s NOT JUST because the voice of the singer is awesome although that helps.
It is really the WORDS!!! The TRUTH of the WORDS, SUNG and then the Holy Spirit directs these truths straight to my soul. (Hebrews 4: 12)
Take for example the beautiful carol “What Child is this?” sung amazingly from verse 3 with descant, by the very gifted Aimee- Jean, who kindly allowed me to video her rehearsal. What are the truths that bring healing to my soul as I reflect on Christmas?
1.     What child is this that Mary holds? – “Christ the King”, “the Word of God made flesh", it's Jesus.(Luke 2:11, John 1:14)
2.     “Nails and spears pierce Him through”, so that I can be forgiven forever by Jesus blood shed on the cross. God loves even me. (John 19: 17-37)
3.     “Let loving hearts enthrone Him” – Yes, I do love Jesus and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I do daily choose to turn from any path that does not lead to Him. I do want Him to be King over my life. (Revelation 19: 6- 10)
4.     “Joy, joy”  - Jesus is the only One who brings eternal forgiveness and peace into my life. My security and identity comes from being loved by God. His love for me is real and unbreakable, (Romans 8:38)

Please sing along to verse 3 of the Christmas carol “What Child is this?” with me.

What is it that Gods’ Holy Spirit is saying to your soul? 

                            HAVE A BLESSED AND SAFE CHRISTMAS

Monday, 28 October 2013

My Bushfire Emergency List - What I now know

putting out bush fires in the mountains

1.   Any smoke in bushland is BAD, any smoke with 90km winds is DOUBLY BAD.

2.     All the cleaning leaves and sticks out of gutters and the backyard that you thought you should do all year – guess what – you should have done it and don’t forget hose nozzles and gutter blockers will all be sold out in your local community – stock up.

3.     The mobile phone service will crash, you will run out of credit, the power will go out. Buy a landline as loved ones will be separated from you for hours by blocked roads and fires.

4.     You will be scared and every family member will react differently to the situation. Go with it – just be safe.

5.     Packing to evacuate becomes like an equation;
The longer the time you have to evacuate = more of a dilemma for you as to what to take.
P.S. Take photos and certificates.

6     The constant sirens, helicopters, fire trucks and police cars are all good because they are the brave men and women who will put their life on the line for you and your community. It is now a confirmed fact in your mind that the Police are AWESOME and that the Firies {fire men and women} are DOUBLY AWESOME.

7.     You realize that people do really care. Neighbours help the elderly clear leaves off their rooves. For the Firies and those affected by the fires, businesses offer freebies like food, hairwashes, accommodation. Friends and family offer places to stay, churches are stocked by their communities with food, clothes and money to give to anyone in need. The government does all it can to get people on their feet. Even Princess Mary of Denmark visits –why? Because people matter and she is an Aussie after all.
Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark encouraging the community

8.     You will be shocked by the devastation and destruction of the fires as you pass daily the charred, mangled messes of what once were lovely homes. You are thankful to God that everyone survived. But your heart and the heart of your mountains community is broken for those who have lost everything. As a community you want to shout out to them that “We care, we want to stand with you on the long difficult journey ahead, we won’t forget you in the weeks and months and years to come.”

9.     You will be hit again with the realization that family and friends are everything. You will also think of your own mortality, you can die at any moment, is your eternity secured? Yes, as a believer you know Jesus has paid the ultimate price for your salvation but have you cared enough to tell others? Do they know God really loves them? You also believe the Bible in Romans 8: 28 that God in his mercy can bring good out of terrible things for those who follow Him. So you and the Christian community will work and pray and look eagerly for God to fulfil His promise.

10.                        BUSH FIRES are BAD but they are NEVER the END of the STORY.
                                       Hey, Jennifer Ann, don’t forget to take the  DOG!!!!!!

Saturday, 3 August 2013


Hebrews 11: 1  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”    NIV Bible

I remember as a teenager the great evangelist Billy Graham coming to Sydney, Australia in 1979. He was interviewed on TV which went well until Billy indicated that he knew with absolute certainty that he would go to heaven.

My memory was that the journalist appeared annoyed and even incredulous by such an affirmation. After all how could Billy make such a claim?

I assume the interviewer mistakenly thought Billy was boasting about his own goodness but he wasn’t he was boasting in the saving power of Jesus. As the verse says he was confident in what he hoped for.

For us who follow Jesus we also experience the dead set unshakeable certainty that one day we too will be with Jesus in heaven.

Why? Because we trust NOT in our own goodness, beauty, effort or comparisons with others, No we TRUST ONLY in Jesus, fully human, yet fully God, seated in power next to God, having defeated death he proved he could forgive our rejection of Him and bring us to heaven where He rules in majesty.

Sometimes when life gets tough or we take pride in our money and lifestyle, we lose sight of this and we can feel like this is not true, maybe we are not saved, maybe it is not real, maybe our sin is too great, maybe there is no heaven, maybe we do okay without God?  These are some of the doubts and prideful thoughts that can wage war against our faith.   

 BE ENCOURAGED; despite our roller coaster emotions the Holy Spirit assures us in our inner being that we are beloved of the Most High God as He has placed His Spirit within us which “testifies with our Spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 

That is the best assurance ever because THE SPIRIT OF GOD CANNOT LIE !!    1 John 5:6

BE ENCOURAGED because as the Apostle John explains when we truly believe by the grace of God our lives will show 5 clear signs;

1.   Our belief, we acknowledge that Jesus is the son of God and is the Saviour of the world and His Spirit lives in us.  I John 5:13 – 16

2.     Our spiritual need, we are realistic about sin. We are sinners and need forgiveness.              1 John 1: 8,9

3.     Our obedience, we choose to obey God and His commands because we truly love Him.  1 John 2: 3- 6

4.     Our love, we [want and work towards the best] or love our fellow believers, really, all the time, even when they are hard to love. By God’s grace alone.                   1 John 4; 7-11

5.     Our rejection, we reject all the lusts of the world and the prides of life that have been put there by Satan in order to lead us astray, away from the truth and love of God. 1 John 2; 15 – 17

As believers we walk the narrow plank with the absolute certainty that Jesus is real and our path leads to heaven, our lives are far from perfect but as we grow in Christ our lives will be increasingly marked by the Spirit of God in us.  Does mine and your life display the marks of God ? Lets talk to God about it.  

Friday, 3 May 2013

Culture Shock and Heaven; "You are FAT,ma"

 " and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying or pain...." Revelation 21:4 NASV

Having lived in Africa for several years we have experienced varying degrees of culture shock. Of course before we went to Africa we tried to prepare ourselves for the different cultural norms but sometimes you can only learn by being there.

AFRICA; Probably one of my least enjoyable shocks was the accepted cultural practise of expressing "how fat" I was. At the time I was not fat at all but friends, acquaintances and perfect strangers would call me fat at every appropriate opportunity which to my mind was far too often !! Later I learnt this of course was a huge compliment that carried the implied meaning that I was well fed, and wealthy enough to afford food that would make me "fat" and was not sick with malaria or tuberculosis or one of those dreadful illnesses that made you thin, so therefore was healthy. But I still did not like it.

A positive cultural shock was the sense of community in Africa that everyone shared. Vegetable sellers turned up on my doorstep to chat and display their wares. The guards regularly alerted us if they saw snakes slithering towards our front door. Women walking to market would sit under our large gum tree and I would bring out large cups of water and sit with them. I miss everyone knowing you and you knowing them.

AUSTRALIA; Returning to Oz we had our fair share of reverse culture shock. I found it difficult to get back into highway driving, the traffic was much heavier and faster. Very few people showed up on our doorstep our sense of being part of a community took much longer to establish. Nothing prepared me for the moment when I had driven with my mother down to the main street of our suburb at about 10 a.m.and I saw a sign "STRIPPER", absolutely horrified I was outraged and said something like;
"I cannot believe in broad daylight they are advertising female strippers what has happened to our society?"
My mother burst out laughing and said "It's a paint shop" .
To which I responded "paint shops are putting on strip shows now!!!"
"No"she patiently said "Its paint stripper for your house"
An embarrassed "ooohh" was all I could manage.

A positive culture shock was the supermarkets laden with food and different brands and choice. The great clothes and shoe shopping. I know many people find the excess and abundance of these items daunting as they adjust to being back in Australia but I confess I loved it, perhaps I am a closet shopaholic.

HEAVEN; For those of us who have trusted Jesus as Saviour and Lord and so graciously been forgiven, I wonder if  we will suffer culture shock on arrival in heaven?  I don't think we will have any "you are fat, ma moments"but I think our experience will all be positive for the Bible says there will be no more crying or pain or tears or sickness or suffering, because He will wipe away our tears, I say bring it on.
There, all will be perfect, no selfishness, no hurting others,  no cruelty, no one will lie, no one will be bullied, no one will commit crimes, I say bring it on. {Revelation 21; 1-8}

And God who is love will constantly be worshipped by all continuously and forever, I say bring it on. {1 John 4:8}

Can I prepare myself for this Heavenly Culture, Yes and No. I don't know what it is like here to not get sick or to not have hurts or to not be dissatisfied with life, or to not feel unloved or lonely or to not be a sinner  but in heaven I will know love perfectly and God will bring justice to all{ 1 John 3; 2}.
 Sometimes we catch glimpses of that on earth but I will have to wait till heaven to experience that culture in full { 1 Cor 8:13}.

But I can worship God now just like the heavenly creatures are already doing. I can do this by allowing God to completely order my days and follow His leading and I can verbally bow down and worship knowing that there is a time coming when all people and nations will bow down and worship God and His son Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
I can do that now and in every day, thankfully acknowledging that He is the Creator who lovingly created me and you. That He is the Redeemer who at great cost, by His own blood has redeemed me and those who would believe in Him.
For me this keeps me spiritually healthy knowing God is in control now and always and one day I will worship Him in His presence, so I want to start now and put God where God should be and me where I should be{ kneeling in love and awe at His feet}. {Revelation 5;8 -14}
In fact I acknowledge every day "I worship You, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, You alone are worthy".

May the worship of God NOT be a culture shock to us but something we do in this world and joyfully continue to do in the next. {Revelation 4;8-11}.

This blog is dedicated to my friend Therese, who I know longs for heaven where she will experience full health but at present worships God and accepts the loving plans of her heavenly Father.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Jesus and His Scars

Isaiah 53:5 " he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities: the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." NIV

My words are not enough to express how immensely loved we are as ones who have trusted Jesus. There is nothing in the world and no-one who shows us such powerful love as God who is willing to be wounded, wounded to death for His creation.

But what do I offer Him in thankfulness and adoration?
Unfortunately often unthought out prayers, irregular church attendance, coldness toward others and a scantily read bible.

Surely my Jesus deserves more than this from me. Can I not give Him my will, my dreams, my hopes, my career my hurts and as the hymn says, "my life, my all"!!

This Easter perhaps you will join me in recommiting your life to Jesus by praying daily,
"Help yourself to my life Jesus, do as you will, be glorified even in me."
 Imagine, what God would do with our lives?

For those who have not experienced the inexorable love of Christ, I would respectfully ask, do you follow anyone or any ideal that can know your hurts or speak into your life and bring wholeness and forgiveness like Jesus? This poem written by Edward Shillito during WW1 captures the God of love.

"If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the counter sign.

The other gods were strong but Thou wast weak;
They rode, butThou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God's wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone."

written by Edward Shillito (1872-1948)

Would you not come and seek forgiveness and trust in the One who loves you? {Romans 10: 9,10}

And this God who has communed with us in our brokenness as humans is risen and is ever there at the right hand of God, now majestic and powerful and at the right time will take us home to be with Him.
  " But we see Jesus.... now crowned with glory and honour." Hebrews 2:9 NIV


Sunday, 20 January 2013

My Australia Day Poem

Dame Edna Everage in wax at Madame Tussauds

   I wrote this poem whilst living in Africa and homesick for the people and values of my Australia.

 It is best performed by an Aussie bloke who has a classic Aussie accent, think Russell Crowe  and preferably wearing an Akubra, blue singlet and jeans or if Russell is unavailable a comedian like Dame Edna will suffice.
Australia Day is celebrated on the 26 of January.


               by Jennifer Ann 

What is a true Australian?
I can see you want to ask.
What do we really look like,
Behind our cultural mask?

Well sit down and have a cuppa,
And I'll try and set you straight.
Otherwise you'll be up the creek,
And then who'll be your mate?

First there is our humour,
We laugh at near and dear.
In fact we laugh at anything,
Our conscience is not clear.

We like to be SO friendly,
And say "G'day" to all,
Because we think that it's polite,
And courteous and all.

We have a rich vocabulary,
Of very Aussie slang,
Like "Beudy mate" and "Bonza,"
We'll say with Aussie twang.

"Stone the crows" and "Yobbo,"
What a repertoire?
We even have one for the wife,
"the missus" and "the sheilaa".

We never are perturbed,
'Cause we know that "she'll be right".
We like to earn an honest dollar,
There's no beer for bludgers on site.

"Have a go ya mug",
Is the workers nasal cry,
As sure as there is smoko,
And a long weekend is nigh.

We love our sport and leisure,
Cricket, rugby and the famous Aussie crawl.
We hosted the Olympics,
It's the Aussie anthem we love to drawl.

We hold only two things sacred,
They're our mates you know,
And the fact that all are equal,
On earth down here below.

We have no interest in position,
Or in any riches.
But we care if you're "fair dinkum"
A good bloke with no hitches.

So a real Australian,
Is not hard to recognise.
Equality and mateship,
Our countries only prize.

 Each time you help the underdog,
And see your mates on too,
You're really saying
"Hey I'm an Aussie, Fair Dinkum and True Blue!!"

Copyright 2000 Jennifer Ann