Saturday, July 23, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 20:8

Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Leviticus 20:8

The call to holiness is repeated throughout the Old Testament and yet it is only the Lord who can make us holy. In Old Testament times sacrifices expressed a heart's desire to be right with God but even the penitent person couldn't make themselves holy this way.

The Sabbath was a sign, a reminder, a prompt to acknowledge God's work and man's inability to save himself. "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13).

Unfortunately religious leaders turned Sabbath-keeping and other laws into rituals. They taught people that outward observations would make them righteous by their own efforts. It's a trap new covenant believers also fall into – trying to make ourselves acceptable to God.

Jesus makes us holy as we receive his forgiveness and enabling into our lives and he does his work so completely that he calls us his brothers and sisters. "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters" (Hebrews 2:11).

It can be difficult to acknowledge that our righteous deeds are never going to promote us to a state of holiness. Even deeds we are doing for God and in his name won't achieve righteousness if they are self-initiated and self-driven. When we attempt to create our own holiness we become evildoers. We may prophesy, drive out demons or perform miracles but Jesus will say: "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23).

Let’s trust God alone to make us holy.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Review : Happy Pants

Happy Pants is written from Heather Gallagher's own experience of postnatal depression. She uses the visual image of a pair colourful pants to portray her happy emotions. So when her happy pants stay in the wardrobe it indicates her feelings of sadness. It is a clever way to show her emotions and one a child can understand.

This book is a useful tool to read to a child whose mother is suffering with postnatal depression. It makes it clear that it's no one fault and that help and support are available from other family members as well as the medical profession.

The illustrations are well drawn and fit well with the context of the story.

Overall a valuable way of communicating postnatal depression to young children.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thoughts on Jeremiah

Over the years I've heard stories about people who lost their faith at Bible College. It made no sense to me. I understood there were liberal lecturers, but really, how could they make someone lose faith?

Then I went to Bible College myself. The first few years I found faith affirming. The history of the church and theology made me feel that my beliefs were on solid ground. I still had no clues as to why someone would lose their faith, until I began studying Prophetic Literature. It was the middle of Jeremiah, I realised the problem. It wasn't Jeremiah accusing God of being deceptive, or God telling Jeremiah he need to get over his self-pity. Rather it was the way the book of Jeremiah came to us.

The book of Jeremiah was first written over two and a half thousand years ago. It was collated from prophesies that Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites living in Jerusalem prior to and during the Babylonian siege which took place around 500 BC. Most of the book was originally written in Hebrew.

Two versions of the book have survived the years. One is the Greek translation which became part of an Old Testament called the Septuagint. In Luke 4:16-19 Jesus read from the Septuagint, though it is believed other translations were also available at the time. The other version we have is the Hebrew edition called the Masoretic text which is usually the translation that our Bibles today are based on. However the Septuagint version of the book is 15% shorter then the Masoretic text. So is the extra 15% inspired? The prophesies are recorded in a different order in the Septuagint to the Masoretic text, is this important?

It has also been found in many of the prophetic books that scribes have added dating clues and geographical markers, but at other times making alterations and adding information which would have been unknown to the person who wrote the original. Were these scribes inspired by God to do this?

The book itself gives some clues to its composition. 'So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them' (emphasis added) (Jeremiah 36:32).

If our faith in the Bible is shaken by these historical discoveries, then our faith in God is also on shaky ground. Liberal theologians like to point out these discrepancies but often fail to mention how amazing it is that we have so many identical copies of Old Testament books that were put together so long ago or that these additions and alterations don't alter the theological meaning of the books.

I believe the Bible we have today is the book God intended us to have. God works through the frailty of human hands and minds but he protects his message. Today we have a book, while not exactly the same as the original, is remarkably close.

Often, in our churches, we act as though the Bible has come to us by magic and we have the exact words that the prophets spoke. The problem surfaces when our young people go to Bible College and they become disillusioned because we haven't been honest in explaining the Bible's own history.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 19:5

When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. Leviticus 19:5

Moses gave the Israelites detailed instructions about how they were to bring their sacrifices. The Israelites couldn't sacrifice anything anywhere – it had be in accordance with God's requirements. Likewise we can't just make any sacrifice and expect God to be impressed.

The temptation is that we will make sacrifices that will be to our advantage rather than discern God's purposes. Perhaps we give our time when God is asking us to make a financial sacrifice or perhaps the opposite. We may find it easier to give money rather than invest our time. Sometimes we sacrifice in order to boost our own self-esteem or to draw attention to ourselves. We may want to be seen as selfless or caring. We may contribute for what we get in return – people's gratitude, friendship or approval.

Perhaps we find ourselves in situations where it's the cultural norm to forgo certain pleasures or complete particular duties. It may require time to discern the difference between our Christian responsibility and cultural obligations. It's also important to remember that God doesn't want us to make unnecessary sacrifices.

It's wise to check our motivation. Why are we making this sacrifice? Do we sense God's prompting? Are we focussed on the needs of others or our own?

Today we aren't bound by the same criteria as the Israelites. Instead God expects us to seek him for wisdom and guidance. This gives us increased freedom but more responsibility.

We always have reason to feel good about ourselves, not because we have made a sacrifice but because we are a child of God. Our self-esteem is not based on what we do but who we are.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

What kind of chaplain am I?

I recently started working as a school chaplain and a couple of weeks ago attended a conference. Over the school holidays I've had a chance to reflect on my role.

Chaplaincy is very different to my previous library jobs. In libraries the day to day work is very obvious – you check out books, check in books and put books away. While there is other behind the scenes work to do the basics are well defined and structured. In comparison chaplaincy is nebulous and varies from school to school, depending on the needs of the schools and the skills of the chaplain.

Being an introvert in a chaplaincy role is a mixed blessings. On the one hand it makes me a thoughtful listener but on the other hand it's harder to initiate the kind of small talk that breaks down barriers. I expected to be able to use my library skills and connect with children through reading books, particularly at lunch time when I open up the library. However this hasn't happened a great deal and certainly not to the extent that I hoped. This means I have to find other ways to make connections.

Listening to other chaplain's experiences at conference was interesting. However many of the presenters were from big schools with more obvious issues. Even the stories I heard around meal times were again interesting, but not necessarily helpful in determining how I need to do chaplaincy.

So at the moment, I'm still reflecting on my own unique way of being a chaplain.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Blog Tour : Mail Order Surprise


About the book:
Colorado, 1881. Lydia Walsh is on the run. The quiet rancher she marries and expected to find safety and protection with turns out to have three siblings, next to nothing to live on, and is a crack shot who may or may not be one of the states best cattle rustlers.

Beau Harding wants to keep his family together and do the right thing by them. His mail order bride comes with her own set of baggage: two more mouths to feed and empty hearts begging him to fill. The job he took for some quick money gets him thrown in jail for rustling, and then to clear his name he takes on another job--and learns that his wife may have been the one plotting his family’s downfall all along.

What COTT voters had to say:
~Waiting to get a chance to read it Lucy
~Lucy Thompson, Great title, great cover!
~Mrs. Lucy Thompson, we wish you the best. 
~Lucy Thompson is not only a wonderful author but I've been blessed to being able to get to know her through Facebook. God bless you Lucy. Hope you win.'
~Lucy Thompson, loved the book.
~Beautiful cover picture and a great book Lucy Thompson!
~YAY Lucy Thompson. Keep up the good work!
~Lucy Thompson, I can't wait to read your novel Mail Order Surprise. It is the next book I will read. All the best for your future releases.

About the author:
Lucy Thompson is a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits.

She enjoys meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When she can be separated from her laptop, she is a professional time waster on facebook.

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 18:3, 24

You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices … Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Leviticus 18:3 & 24

Seven times in this chapter it is repeated that the Israelites are not to behave like the nations who inhabited Canaan before them (v. 3 x 2, 24, 26, 27, 29, and 30). Likewise Christians are called to be holy and live differently to those around them. Yet holiness isn't some kind of super-spirituality. Rather it indicates uniqueness and separateness which comes from the way we conduct ourselves and not through isolation.

When Jesus prayed for his disciples and future disciples, his prayer was not that we segregate ourselves from the world but rather that God would protect us from evil (John 17:15). There would be little need for protection if we lived in a cocooned environment.

Unfortunately the Israelites weren't able to retain their distinctiveness. They adopted the practices of the pagan nations around them even while continuing to worship God. When there was a new king who followed God's ways exclusively, they introduced reforms but these were only adhered to outwardly (see Jeremiah 3:10 for example). Renewals rarely transformed people's hearts. Even in our day it is easier to blend in with the culture rather than cultivate a God-honouring life-style.

In Romans 12:2 Paul writes: 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind'. To be effective renewal must start in our thinking and outwork so it effects our daily life.

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