Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday's lighter note

"With friends like these ..." was the first thing that came to mind after reading the Friends of Animals raffle ticket I'd just bought.

It said I could win one of the following prizes: a large box of chicken legs, a smoked ham, eight T-bone steaks, six kilos of sausages or a box of pork chops.
- Michael Frendak (Readers Digest)

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Book review : Forever Ruined for the Ordinary

Joy Dawson has a large speaking ministry with Youth With A Mission. She has written, Forever Ruined for the Ordinary : the adventure of hearing and obeying God's voice (Strand, 2006) largely from her own experiences of hearing from God. I don't doubt any of her experiences but would have to say that her way of hearing from God is different to mine. The impression Joy creates is that she is constantly waiting before the Lord for very specific directions, often about which speaking invitations to accept and what message God wants her to bring. Perhaps if I had this type of ministry I would find it necessary to do this too. Yet I don't see the apostle Paul receiving his guidance in this way. In Hebrews 13:23 there is no sense that Paul is being guided with every single detail of his itinerary.

Towards the end I felt the book got a little bogged down in the area of obedience. Overall though I did enjoy reading about Joy's experiences, it is always interesting and encouraging to see how God works in another's life.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Devotional thought : Matthew 8:9

For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, "Go," and he goes; and that one, "Come," and he comes. I say to my servant, "Do this," and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he was astonished … Matthew 8:9.

Recently I happened to watch a repeat of a repeat of a repeat of M*A*S*H. In this episode the colonel sent Hawkeye away to attend to a Korean patient.Hawkeye objected because he felt there were more pressing medical concerns at the base.

The colonel ordered him to go. Later Hawkeye realized why the colonel had sent him and said, "Why didn't you tell me?" The colonel replied, "Because when they make you a colonel, they take the bone out of your head that makes you explain orders."

God also doesn't have a bone in His head! When we rightly understand authority we realized that God is under no obligation to explain His actions or lack of action to us. Often, because He wants to treat us as friends (John 15:15), He does let us know but we shouldn't act as though we have a right to know. In the verse above the words of a Roman centurion astonished Jesus. Here was a non-Jewish man who understood authority and rightly applied it to God.

God will always act in a way that is consistent with His character, so He doesn't keep knowledge from us in order to frustrate us. He only keeps knowledge from us if it is in our best interest, perhaps to encourage our faith or because He knows we can only handle so much information at one time (John 16:12).

We need to trust that God knows what He is doing whether He chooses to tell us or not.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Bible Study Place Blog

I'm sure the one thing the world doesn't need is another blog!

Nevertheless I have decided to start a second blog for the sole purpose of running an online Bible Study. From time to time in various places I have been involved in studying the Bible in this way and I have found it very worthwhile. So I've decided to take the plunge and start another blog specially for this purpose.

It begins next Sunday with the book of Mark chapter 1. Then each week with the following chapter. I hope you will join me in studying the Bible in this way.

Here's the link: The Bible Study Place

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Book Review : Fight Like A Girl

This book review first appeared in the June 2007 Porpoise Diving life and also on the Faith in a Dress blog. Thanks again to Erin and Pam.

In her book, Fight like a girl : the power of being a woman (Warner Faith, 2006), Lisa Bevere seeks to correct the way women perceive themselves. Modern media, cultural norms and traditional viewpoints have all damaged women's confidence and self esteem. Women have a unique place in the purposes of God but this has often been overlooked or underrated in church circles. Lisa aims to present a more accurate view of women based on Biblical teaching. She points out the God-given strengths women have and how with these strengths women are meant to come along side men rather than be in competition with them.

Lisa encourages women to be all that God intends them to be, to find their giftedness and talents so they can reach their potential in whatever roles God calls them to. For women who have experienced hurt and rejection at the hands of men she brings a message of hope and healing. Lisa uses examples from her own life which makes for interesting reading and practical teaching. I found the book easy to read, uplifting and encouraging.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Meme : 5 Things I Dig About Jesus

I have been tagged by Erin from Decompressing Faith to write 5 Things I Dig About Jesus. So here we are:

1. He loves me, completely, unconditionally, extravagantly, endlessly. Jesus loves me and it overwhelms me just to think of it. Every love song, story and poem that has ever been written says something about the way Jesus loves me.

2. He gives me grace, freely, recklessly, abundantly, ridiculously. Jesus has a bottomless supply of grace available to me for no good reason. I never have to lift a finger to earn it. It's mine.

3. He chooses to bless me, unexpectedly, undeservedly, without warning, without asking. Suddenly Jesus touches my life or my circumstances with unmerited blessings.

4. He has a plan, it is a vast plan, an amazing, all encompassing, eternal plan where all the pieces finally come together and make perfect sense. A plan that started before time began and will continue for all time.

5. He became one of us, fully human, ordinary, common, an every day human being. Jesus brings me face to face with God who demonstrates his intimate involvement with me and his intense desire to connect with me. This is staggering and completely unheard of in any other religion. It ruins any idea that God is disinterested or aloof or that he is watching from a distance.

Now for some people to tag (just if you would like to, no obligation or if others would like to volunteer feel free)...






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Monday, June 18, 2007

Devotional thought : Judges 5:31

This thought first appeared on the Faith in a Dress blog. My thanks to Erin and Pam for letting me be apart of that project.

So may all your enemies perish, O Lord! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength. Judges 5:31

These are the concluding words to Deborah's song, written after she and Barak had defeated Jabin and his Canaanite army. Deborah pictures God's people as being like the sun whose heat grows stronger as the day progresses.

Perhaps this imagery appealed to Deborah because it reflected her own life's experience. Under Ehud the land had known peace for eighty years but after his death, Jabin, the Canaanite king had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years. Then one day Deborah called Barak because it was time to attack Jabin's army.

Why wait twenty years?

God waits for us to grow in faith. We have different expectations of fruit trees that have just been planted to fruit trees that are 20 years old. Likewise God often waits until we are more mature before He asks us to act in certain situations. For 80 years the Israelites had not needed to fight a battle. It would now take time for the people to become battle ready and for Deborah to learn to know God's voice. Deborah settled the disputes of her people (4:5) and no doubt it was during this time that she learnt to hear God's voice and trust His direction. When the time came to act she would need to know with certainty that God had indeed spoken to her.

If you have been a Christian for more than 20 years it is interesting to consider if over that time your faith has grown stronger like the rising sun. Do you trust God more now than you did when you first believed? Is it easier to hear and know God's voice?

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday's lighter note

When my son Michael was in primary school, he had to write a biography about his parents. When I read his biography about me, I was impressed with his vocabulary. It said, "My mum has blue eyes and chestnut hair."
"Where did you learn about the colour chestnut?" I asked him.
"It's written on your hair-dye box," Michael explained.
- Roxanee Keillor (Readers Digest)

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Book Review : Living Free in Christ

I have read many other books by Neil Anderson including, The Bondage Breaker, Freedom from Addiction, The Common made Holy but I thought I would conclude this little three part series on Anderson's books by reviewing Living Free in Christ.

Living Free in Christ (Regal Books, 1993) is in many ways a summary of much of Neil Anderson's teaching. The book is divided into three parts, our acceptance in Christ, our security in Christ and our significance in Christ. Each part has 12 short chapters which start with a Bible verse and conclude with a prayer. Anderson aims to give believers an accurate understanding of their standing before God. We are not born feeling good about ourselves and this leads to distorted thinking when we become Christians. Our Christian growth depends on replacing our old ways of thinking with Biblical ways of thinking. This can be a long slow process as we must first uncover the lies that we currently believe about ourselves and our world.

Anderson includes many stories about himself and others as he explains spiritual truths in an easy to understand manner. Of course, the difficulty comes as we try to apply these truths to our lives and meet with opposition from our long held faulty view of ourselves. Nevertheless, as Anderson often points out, it is as we renounce the lies and accept God's truths that we find freedom.

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Devotional thought : Hebrews 9:7

I've been reading Hebrews lately and been amazed at how thoroughly God has provided for our forgiveness.

But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance Hebrews 9:7.

Under the old covenant God made provision for sins committed in ignorance. Later in the same chapter the writer goes on to speak about the greater provision of Christ saying, "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ … cleanse our consciences" (9:14).

God goes to extraordinary lengthens to ensure that our conscience can be cleansed even from those sins we commit in ignorance. God forgives us of things we are often not even aware of and sometimes He doesn't even point them out to us.

We can constantly live in a state of being forgiven because in Christ we have up to the minute forgiveness. We don't need to wait until the end of the day and make a mental list of all our wrongdoing in order for God to forgive us. God is constantly forgiving us. In 1 John 1:7 we are told, "if we walk in the light, as he is in the light … the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." If we have committed our lives to God we have committed ourselves to walking in the light, therefore we are continually being purified from sin.

Certainly we need to confess and repent of those sins God brings to our attention but God has given us such an incredible freedom. Not only has He paid for all our sins past, present and future. He frees us from the need to keep track of our sins. God has dealt with our sins so completely that we can live abundant lives and fulfill the plan He has for our lives.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday's lighter note

I must say this month's Readers Digest has some particularly good funnies. This is my favourite:

Waiter to customers, "I should warn you that the kitchen staff may contain nuts."

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Book Review : Breaking the Bondage of Legalism

I didn't think I needed to read, Breaking the Bondage of Legalism (Harvest House, 2003) as I thought that I was already free from legalism. However as Neil Anderson, Rich Miller and Paul Travis discussed this subject in depth, I realized that legalism still had a hold on me. Prior to writing the book the authors undertook a survey and discovered that legalism not only had a hold on the majority of Christians but most were oblivious in its impact on their thinking. Therefore the first part of the book is devoted to looking at what legalism is and how it impacts our thinking while the second part is concerned with being free.

It is an important truth that the authors present as we so easily fall into the trap of thinking we are pleasing God by what we are doing and yet our attitudes can be very ungodly. Legalism pulls us into pride when we keep our self-imposed standards and shames us when we don't. Neither result is God's intention.

Breaking the Bondage of Legalism is easy to read and apply, with lots of personal illustrations.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Devotional thought : Mark 3:16-19

Just lately I have been working on writing some children's stories about the 12 disciples which got me thinking about what an interesting bunch of personalities they must have been:

These are the twelve he appointed: … Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot … Mark 3:16-19

When Jesus appointed the disciples he actually chose two people called James. There was James, the brother of John and son of Zebedee and James, the son of Alphaeus. (There is also a third James mentioned in the New Testament who was the brother of Jesus.)

We are not told anything about the second James except he was the son of Alphaeus. In Mark 2:14 we discover that Matthew, the tax collector, is also the son of Alphaeus. It is likely that James and Matthew were brothers. However they are never mentioned together perhaps because they were diametrically opposed to each other.

Bible historians feel that James like Simon was a Zealot. Zealots were a political group who believed the best way to be free of Roman oppression was through armed revolt. Zealots hated the very presence of Romans in their land and hated those who cooperated with them … like tax collectors. Not only did Jesus have Zealots and tax collectors as disciples but also a couple of fishermen in need of anger management (Luke 9:54) and one who spoke even when he didn't know what to say (Mark 9:6)! The group Jesus chose had every reason to disintegrate into factions.

Jesus managed to galvanize this group by focusing on the thing they had in common. They all wanted to see God's kingdom come and were prepared to put aside their prejudices and agendas in order for that to happen.

God continues to choose people as leaders who do not naturally work well together. The challenge for us as God's people is to put aside our prejudices and agendas for the bigger purpose of growing God's kingdom.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Book Review : Victory over the Darkness

In his book, Victory over the Darkness (Monarch, 1990) Neil Anderson outlines how the believer should see themselves once they have committed their lives to God. He seeks to correct a lot of wrong thinking where the extent of God's grace has not been fully realized. So often a Christian will still refer to themselves as a "sinner saved by grace." However Anderson points out this is what we were, this was what happened at conversion. Now we are God's children, God has credited us with righteousness so we are now saints. Albeit, saints who sometimes sin, but saints nevertheless. This is how God now sees us and His view is the correct one. Our thinking is often distorted by shallow teaching based on how we feel.

Anderson goes on to point out that this is not just a nice theological thought but it actually impacts on the way we behave as Christians. If we continue to think of ourselves as sinners we will continue to act like sinners. If we start to think of ourselves as saints we will start to act more saintly.

I enjoy Anderson's style, finding it easy to understand and apply to my life.

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