Monday, April 29, 2013

Getting into the game


Earlier today I wrote a post for Christian Writers Downunder about how God pushes unlikely people into the limelight.

Check it out here.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Devotional Thought : Mark 2:1

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. Mark 2:1

Capernaum was now Jesus' home. Matthew also mentions this, “Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum” (Matthew 4:13). Previously I had this idea that when Jesus began his public ministry he sort of wandered around the countryside for three years. I hadn't really thought about Capernaum being Jesus' home. Yet there are several Scriptures which confirm it. Furthermore the crowds knew that Jesus lived in Capernaum and would look for him there – Mark 9:33, Matthew 17:24 and John 6:24.

Possibly the idea of Jesus being homeless comes from these verses: “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19-20).

Yet in this incident Jesus was pointing out the cost of discipleship. Following Jesus would involve sacrificing some comforts, not necessarily that he was poor or without a home but rather that he was itinerant.

Jesus having a home makes the next few verses in Mark particularly interesting: “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on” (Mark 2:4).

Possibly the roof that these men dug through was that of Jesus’ home! Yet Jesus doesn’t complain. He is more impressed by their faith than worried about any inconvenience they may have caused. Jesus lived out the cost of discipleship and sacrificed his own comfort so others could experience God.

I wonder if there are times when we are more concerned with being inconvenienced than we are with helping people having an encounter with God?

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review : Where Arrows Fly

Where arrows fly by Rosie Boom is an enjoyable story of the adventures of a family who live in a barn while building a house on their farm. It is the second in the series. The first book, Where lions roar, is about their move to the farm which I have not read. There were only a couple of times that I was aware this was a sequel.

There are six children in the family ranging in ages from 8 to 18 plus their Mum and Dad, though it often focuses on 11 year old Milly. The growing number of animals on the farm horses, cows, sheep, dogs, mice, chicken, and ducks adds to the frivolity.

The book has the sense of authenticity as it is written about Rosie Boom’s real family who live on the north island of New Zealand. Since Rosie and her husband are Christians and I expected the book to include a more spiritual outlook on their life, but this was not the case. I guess Rosie wanted to attract a wider audience.

Overall a good read and recommended for primary school children.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

On holidays

Currently I am on holidays. We went back to the town where we stayed four years ago, see here. It is a beautiful part of the world.

Basically I am doing what I always do on holidays – catch up with family and friends, read books, do puzzles, shop, and go for walks. Hopefully I can also find some time to keep my blog up to date.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Devotional Thought : Matthew 28:11-12

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money Matthew 28:11-12

The chief priests were given an eye witness account of the resurrection by unbiased, reliable witnesses and they still refused to believe. Instead they paid the guards a bride. They didn’t believe themselves and hinder others. Previously they had mocked Jesus and indicated they would believe in him if he gave them sufficient evidence.

"In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him'" (Matthew 27:41-42).

Yet nothing would convince them. No amount of evidence. No amount of answers to intellectual questions. No amount of fulfilled prophecy. No amount of archaeological evidence. No amount of historical data. There is more going on here than people needing evidence.

Jesus said of the Jews, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

Jesus is not surprised that people do not believe in him so perhaps we should be less surprised. Believing in Jesus makes us accountable, the way we live matters, it places us under conviction. Our selfishness and lack of compassion condemn us. Instinctively we know we do not live a life pleasing to him.

However our believing or not believing does not alter his existence. We may convince ourselves but in the end our opinion is of little importance, especially if it is wrong.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Book Review : Youth Ministry 3.0

This is a very short book (126 pages) which gives a brief overview of youth ministry touching on what Mark Oestreicher believes have been the three major shifts in youth ministry over the last 50 years.

After his historical observations and research Mark Oestreicher comes to the conclusion that to reach the current generation of young people we need to focus on community and mission. As these are the two major things that today’s young people are seeking. They want deeper connections than social media can supply and they want a mission that is bigger than themselves.

Oestreicher is easy to read and includes many, many quotes in sidebars to further illustrate and add to his point of view. He is even prepared to include opinions that he does not necessarily agreed with.

Although the book is short, Oestreicher manages to cover his topic well and gives much food for thought.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blog Tour : Strength Renewed

This month's non-fiction blog tour is for: Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer. This book is part of a blog tour organized by the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance.

I was given the opportunity of reading a review copy of this book but since my husband had cancer 25 years ago I have found it difficult to read this subject matter. Nevertheless I felt it was worthwhile to provide the information here:


15-19 April


is introducing


(Revell/Baker Publishing Group 1 October 2012)

by
Shirley Corder



About the Author:
I am an author, registered nurse and cancer survivor (1997). I am also a pastor's wife. I live in the beautiful Eastern Cape of South Africa with Rob, my husband of well over 40 years, a lively Jack Russell terrior who answers to the name of Zoё, and a hyperactive budgie named Sparkie.

Website is www.shirleycorder.com

About the Book:
Comfort and hope to sustain you through the months ahead.

Nothing saps your strength quite like a cancer diagnosis—unless it is the energy-stealing chemotherapy and surgeries you face in your fight against cancer. But you can find hope and strength in the pages of Scripture, and in the experience of someone who has been there.

In Strength Renewed, breast cancer survivor and registered nurse Shirley Corder combines her encouraging personal stories with powerful passages from Scripture to help you along the road to recovery. These devotions can be read in sequential order to move you through a typical cancer journey from diagnosis through treatment. But each meditation also stands on its own, so you can go directly to the entry that speaks to your need—right now.

You have a partner and a cheerleader in Shirley—and in God—on the rough road ahead. Let Strength Renewed lift you up as you travel.

South African Giveaway:
If you are from South Africa Shirley has a copy of her book to give away to one reader. Just leave a message on any of the blogs that feature Shirley this week and you will go into the draw. Please mention you have a South African mailing address.

Genre: Non Fiction

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Devotional Thought : Matthew 27:62-63

The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. "Sir," they said, "we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again'." Matthew 27:62-63

Isn't it interesting that Jesus' enemies remembered that Jesus said – I will rise again, but His disciples didn't. Obviously Jesus said this clearly enough for the Pharisees to know and understand that he meant rising from the dead. His disciples either didn’t remember or couldn’t believe it, even though they saw him bring others back to life. Yet I know when I find myself in situations that haven't turn out the way I thought they should, I too forget what Jesus has told me.

I find there are three things in particular I tend to forget or begin to doubt: God is good; God loves me and has my best interests are heart; and God is powerful, able to handle all of my crises as well as the world’s.

The remedy to all these doubts is to think of the cross. There God demonstrated that He is a good God. To give up His only Son on a cross to restore a relationship with us says He is a good God. The cross also tells us that God loves us and always has our best interests at heart. And the cross tells us that God is powerful. It was there he defeated the devil. Colossians 2:15 explains that Christ "having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross".

When we take time to reflect on Jesus and all he has done for us through the cross, let it reinforce to us these three things: God is intrinsically good; God loves us enormously and God is immensely powerful.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review : Thankful for dishes

Narelle Nettelbeck, an Australian mum of two young sons, has written a book of devotions called, Thankful for Dishes. There are 100 devotions covering topics such as godly living, life in Christ, special occasions and holidays, living life with children, Bible characters, relationships, marriage, and encouragements for mum. Narelle honestly shares her own struggles and covers the issues that challenge all mums of small children.

The devotions don't have to be read in order and is ideal for busy mums as they can check the contents and read a topic that is appropriate for their day. There is space to jot down thoughts and prayers.

Thankful for dishes is an encouraging book, realistic and easy to read.

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Monday, April 08, 2013

From Christianity Today - The Atheist's Dilemma

There was an interesting article called, The Atheist’s Dilemma, posted last Thursday on the Christianity Today website. It was written by Jordan Monge and is her testimony of how she went from being an atheist to a Christian. I found the following comments particularly insightful:

“My Christian friends in high school avoided talking to me about religion because they anticipated that I would tear down their poorly constructed arguments. And I did.”

“He prodded me on how inconsistent I was as an atheist who nonetheless believed in right and wrong as objective, universal categories.”

“I had always believed in the big Bang. But I was blissfully unaware that the man who first proposed it, Georges Lemaître, was a Catholic priest. And I’d happily ignored the rabbit trail of a problem of what caused the Big Bang, and what caused that cause, and so on.”

“The fact that I had failed to adhere to my own ethical standards filled me with deep regret. Yet I could do nothing to right these wrongs.”

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Devotional Thought : Matthew 26:14-15

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” Matthew 26:14-15

We are never told Judas’ motives to betray Jesus but both Matthew and Mark place Judas’ decision immediate after Mary anointed Jesus. Furthermore John indicates it was Judas who said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages” (John 12:5). John makes it clear this was this same Judas who betrayed Jesus.

So it seems that Judas took offence at Mary anointing Jesus, but why?

Jesus wasn't the leader the Jews or Judas expected. He spent time talking to women, children and Gentiles. He showed compassion. He preached about love and forgiveness. None of these activities were very king-like. After he feed the crowds the people wanted to make Jesus a king, but Jesus slipped away (John 6:14-15). Judas must have wondered, “When will Jesus ever begin acting like a king?” John also explained that it wasn’t because Judas cared about the poor that he had complained about Mary anointing Jesus but because he was a thief (John 12:6). Judas didn’t understand the true nature of God’s kingdom.

Perhaps Judas tried to force Jesus’ hand. Perhaps he thought, “If Jesus is arrested he will have to defend himself and this will lead to the establishment of the kingdom.” But when he is arrested Jesus doesn’t even fight. In the end Judas realizes he has done the wrong thing but he doesn’t ask for forgiveness. He never understood God's grace, forgiveness or love.

May we never be like Judas, but rather accept God’s ways and his timetable and know that he is indeed a gracious and forgiving God.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Blog Tour : Web of Lies

This month's fiction blog tour is for: Web of Lies. I recently read this book and my book review can be found here. This book is part of a blog tour organized by the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance.


1 - 5 April


is introducing


(Even Before Publishers 1 December 2012)

by

Laura O'Connell



About the Author:
Laura enjoys writing stories about second chances in love and life. She calls the Gold Coast home, however, her curious nature leads her on adventures to locations that surprise and delight her. Laura has a passion for telling a good story set in places where she has lived and travelled. Laura is the author of African Hearts and Web of Lies. Her debut novel, African Hearts, was shortlisted in the 2011 Caleb Prize. To find out more about Laura visit her website: laura-oconnell.com


About the Book:
High school sweethearts, Stephanie and Lachlan are torn apart by circumstance, bad decisions and a web of lies,leaving an unknown future for their son, Ryan.

Eight years later they reconnect,but the time apart has changed them. The family had made decisions based on lies and deceit and now must find a way to either reveal the truth or find another option. On the surface their arrangements seemed flawless, but dig deeper, and the people they thought they knew, aren't as they appear.

Lachlan and Stephanie are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and the entire family is compelled to reveal the truth, find forgiveness, and renew loving one another. But the hardest decision is still to come...where does Ryan live?

Genre: Fiction

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Book Review : Web of lies

Web of lies is being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance this week. More information about the author and the book can be found here.

The well apt title of Web of lies describes the way deceit has silently crept into a number of relationships in this story. Lachlan and Stephanie had formed a relationship during high school but circumstances and family lies had pulled them apart with Stephanie left to deal with being pregnant and a sick guardian aunt. Eight years later, Lachlan decides to reconnect with Stephanie.

I liked the gradual process of untangling the lies and finding truth. I felt the characters dealt with their pain and confusion in realistic ways. It was not an overtly Christian story but just enough to give hope.

There were a number of minor glitches. I couldn’t figure out the time span. It felt like the story took place over a few weeks but this didn’t account for Stephanie, who lived in Sydney, being on the Gold Coast so often, and where did she stay? No explanation was given as to how Lachlan was able to find Stephanie in Sydney, especially as she had married and changed her name. I found all the characters very believable, except eight year old Ryan. He had been brought up in a semi-dysfunctional home yet was practically a perfect child. Also the story did leave some loose ends. One is only left to assume that Stephanie leaves her job and moves to the Gold Coast.

Despite these minor issues, overall I did enjoy Laura O’Connell's story and felt content that the major dilemmas in the story were satisfactorily resolved.

Thanks to Even Before Publishing for providing a free book for review.

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