Saturday, September 28, 2013

Devotional Thought : Job 42:6

"Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:6

Throughout the book Job’s friends wanted Job to repent but Job refused because he had not wilfully sinned. Yet now, in the presence of God, he voluntarily repents – not of the sins that supposedly lead to his suffering but of sins that he committed while suffering.

He repents of the arrogance of demanding answers from God since Job is only a created being; he repents of challenging God’s justice as if he knew better; he repents of discrediting God in order to justify himself; he repents of the attitude that God owed him an explanation; in the final analysis he repents of not knowing God better.

Many of Job’s statements about God had been made in ignorance. Job didn’t fully appreciate God’s Sovereignty. God is not going to explain everything to our satisfaction and Job had to learn to accept mystery. One of the lessons of Job is to be humble since we don’t know as much as we think we do.

However a more important lesson is that when Job received a revelation of God he no longer demanded explanations, or vindications, or an audience with God. As Constable says in his commentary on Job, "We do not need to know why if we know God." When we are convinced that the character of God is good, we can accept the mystery of suffering because we know we can trust an all good God.

We can be like children who don't understand their parent’s decisions. Children don't understand why they must have immunisations or why their parents may choose to move house. But children trust their parents because they know they care for them and will protect them from harm, though not always from pain.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Blog Tour : Streets on a Map

This month's fiction blog tour is for the book: Streets on a map by Dale Harcombe. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.


23 - 27 September


is introducing


(Ark House Press December 2010)

by

Dale Harcombe



About the Author:
Streets on a Map, is published by Ark House Press. Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published. Many poems in Kaleidoscope have been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines. She has won prizes for her poetry and has been published in several anthologies.

Along with her husband, Dale was for a time houseparent for a family of twelve boys. She has also been a manuscript assessor and book reviewer and run creative writing classes. She has also written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. For several years she wrote about Christian living, marriage and home related topics for www.families.com. She has a BA in Literary and Australian studies.

More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale


About the Book:
Every choice carries a price as Abby discovers when she marries Joel. If she had known when Joel first walked into Clancy’s what lay in store, she would have stopped the relationship before it got started. However, by the time she found out it was too late. The choice was made. Or so she thought.

But then between her and her one friend in Astley, Laila, they arrive at solution that could benefit Abby and the small county town. A deliberately lit fire and an unplanned pregnancy threaten to bring their carefully laid plans and Abby's dreams undone. Problems of some newcomers to the town impinge on Abby's life too, but it is the arrival of an old resident of Astley that could end up destroying everything and not just for Abby.

Who else's lives will be affected and changed forever. Will the unwelcome arrivals in Astley destroy everything Abby and Laila have worked to achieve? What is the secret that will have all of Astley reeling?

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Review : Streets on a map

Streets on a Map is being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance this week. Information about the author and more details about the book can be found here.

Streets on a Map by Dale Harcombe is an interesting story of a young woman, Abby who moves with her husband, Joel to the country town where Joel has grown up. Abby is a city girl who has to adjust to a new life style in an unfamiliar setting. The book raises a number of issues associated with forming relationships, moving on from dysfunctional families, forgiveness and building trust. Some good Judeo-Christian ethics are subtly woven into the story. I liked the way this was handled as it didn’t feel contrived.

However, there were a couple of things that didn’t work well for me. I never warmed to Joel, perhaps because the first time we are introduced to him, he is arguing with Abby. He comes across as insensitive, and since they had no history of Christian standards, there were times when I wondered why Abby didn’t pack her bags and return to Sydney. I also wondered what line of work Joel did.

Another issue I had was getting a mental picture of Astley. I have lived in small country towns and I couldn’t get a feel for how big it was. The level of gossip and rumours that circulated suggested a very small town yet it seemed to have a number of services like a hospital suggesting it wasn’t that small.

However these issues weren’t significant enough to distract from a good story and others may not even notice them.

Overall an enjoyable read.

Thanks to Dale Harcombe for providing a free book for review.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Is it ok to say, “no” in the face of genuine need?

Just one final question on the topics of Simply your Life and How to say "no" well.

Is it ok to say, “no” in the face of genuine need?

Consider the story of the five wise virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. Notice v.9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

These girls did not have any trouble saying, “no’ in the face of genuine need and they were commended as being wise.

We all have limited time and resources, we are wise when we learn what it is God wants us to do and put our time and resources into doing those things well.

In John 5 we read the story of the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda. The story starts this way:

Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years (John 5:3-5).

A great number of people were in need but Jesus only healed one of them. He effectively said, “no” to all the others. So yes, there are times when it is necessary to say "no" in the face of need.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

How to say "no" well

Today's post follows on from my article Simply your Life.

I was reading an article on the internet here which gave some tips on how to say "no" well. Along with the tips I've added some of my own thoughts:

1. Do not answer immediately
Any time we are asked to do something we need to think about whether it fits with the abilities and the gifts that God has given us. Is something that fits in with the area of interest that God has given me? Am I tempted to say “yes” just to please others? Am I tempted to say “yes” because it will make me feel worthwhile as a person?

2. Count the cost
If I say, “yes” exactly how much time am I committing? Will I need to arrive early and stay late? Is it cutting across other things that I should be doing at that time? Is it a one-off commitment or will I be expected to do something on an on-going basis?

I may find that it is something God wants me to do but I might be worried that I don’t have the time or the energy to do it. I may need to trust God to provide the resources I need. I may need God to show me what I need to give up doing so I do have time to do it. I may need to trust him to provide the energy and the strength to sustain me.

Counting the cost doesn’t mean saying “no” it means being aware of exactly what it is we are committing to.

3. Pray
There are some things that God wants us to do and we don’t want to be saying “no” to them. We need God’s wisdom as to know where God wants us to invest our time and energy.

I find God gives me a sense of peace about those things he wants me to do. If I have a sense of compulsion, a sense I have to do this or I have to be somewhere, I become very cautious because I don’t believe God leads that way.

Colossians 3:5 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

In the Amplified Bible it says: And let the peace from Christ act as umpire.

4. If you do accept, communicate your limitations
So you might say, yes I can do it this week as a one-off but I won’t always be free. Or yes, I can do it if I can leave early. Make it clear exactly what you can do.

5. If you don’t accept, can you suggest someone else?
Perhaps you know of someone who could help that the person asking may not be aware of. Perhaps you can offer to help in some other way that fits in better with your gifting and your schedule.

Sometimes we may need to say, I’ve just involved in too many other things at the moment. Or, I really don’t think it is an area God would have me involved with at the moment.

We don’t need to have another event on at the same time in order to say that we won’t come to something. We need gaps in our schedule so that if something unexpected happens we can cope with it.

6. Don’t feel guilty about your well-considered decision
If you have thought it through, counted the costed, prayed and considered other options for the person asking, then you have no need to feel guilty.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blog Tour : What would Jesus drive?

This blog tour is for the children’s book: What would Jesus drive? by Paul Clark. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

What would Jesus drive? is part of the Car Park series and my book review of the series can be found here.


16-20 September


is introducing


(Even Before Publishing March 2012)

by

Paul Clark



About the Author:
Paul Clark is married with two kids. He has nearly 20 years experience in children's and youth ministry having worked in both the city and rural areas. Paul has a knack of sharing the gospel message, simply and profoundly through story - something he is very passionate about. With 10 titles to his name, and more on the way, his resources are down to earth, Australian, and to be watched!


About the Book:
It is Palm Sunday in the Church Car Park and Jesus is riding into Jerusalem. The only problem is deciding what Jesus would have driven into Jerusalem if there had been cars in his time. Was it a motorbike because Jesus was a rebel? Was it a truck so he could stand on the back and teach the crowd? Was it a bus because he was a man of the people and he could have brought his friends along? Find out what the cars think! Part of the Australian Car Park Parables series.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Devotional Thought : Job 35:7-8

If you are righteous, what do you give to him, or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself, and your righteousness only other people. Job 35:7-8

I find Elihu is the most annoying of all Job’s friends! His language is arrogant (33:3 & 36:4) and uncaring. His concept of God falls so far short of the Biblical picture of a caring Father who is interested in the lives of those he created. Elihu does not think of God as a personal God so he has not considered that it is possible act towards God out of love for him.

Elihu is like those who believe the reasons for unanswered prayer are because we do not have enough faith or we have unconfessed sin in our life or we have wrong motives. If the requirement for answered prayer is abundant faith, pure lives and pure motives, it is unlikely that any of our prayers would ever be answered.

Yet for the Elihus of the world it gives them a reasons for God’s inaction without disturbing their theology. Ultimately it suited Elihu to think this way even though it made him insensitive and arrogant. He was more interested in having his theology in order that helping suffering people. He doesn’t want to wrestle with the mystery of a loving Father who allows suffering.

For six chapters in Job (32-37) Elidu is allowed to spout his supposed wisdom, then we hear nothing more of him. Job does not respond to him and neither does God. He is not mentioned when God tells Job to pray for his friends (42:7-10). Perhaps this tells us that arguing with the Elidus of this world is pointless.

And the lesson for us is: don’t use your theology to hurt people.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Simplify Your Life

Earlier today I wrote a post for Christian Writers Downunder about simplifying your life.

Our lives would be less complex if we were better at saying “no”.

Check it out here.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Review : Raising a spiritually strong daughter

Raising a spiritually strong daughter has good advice and insightful comments for raising daughters. However it is written by an American author, Susie Shellenberger, and at times I found it difficult to relate to. Many of her suggestions would not work well in an Australian culture.

Nevertheless Susie’s desire for young women to live strong Christian lives is encouraging and inspiring. Susie covers many topics such as communication, purity, modesty, handling conflict, entertainment choices, church attendance etc. She also has a chapter for those whose relationship with their daughter has not turned out well. One area I felt was not covered in enough depths was loosening the parental grip and transitioning your teenage daughter into a young adult capable of making their own decisions.

Overall I found Susie’s parenting style a bit too intense and involved, but again this may just be cultural. It was an interesting read nevertheless.

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Monday, September 09, 2013

Devotional Thought : Job 26:2

How you have helped the powerless! How you have saved the arm that is feeble! Job 26:2

Job is cynical and critical of his friends. The remarks in this verse are addressed to Bildad. In spite of Bildad’s supposed great theology, he hadn’t helped Job. He had not encouraged, supported or empowered Job. It is easy to be well intentioned but unhelpful.

Our theology ought to make us caring people. Both Paul and James teach that if our theology doesn’t motivate us to care than our religion is worthless (1 Timothy 5:4, James 1:26-27). Yet our caring also needs to be sensitive.

Probably Bildad thought he was being helpful by pointing out to Job where his thinking was wrong but Job found his reasoning illogical as well as unsympathetic. Hurting people are not comforted by explanations but by people who will sit with them and feel their pain. Initially this is what Job’s friends did: “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13).

Rick Warren writes on suffering: “When life doesn’t make sense, an explanation doesn’t easy your pain; the presence of God does.” We need to be the presence of God to hurting people.

However Bildad thought they had grieved long enough and it was time to challenge Job’s theology but it was actually Bildad’s theology that needed correcting. The Lord said to Eliphaz, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).

Ministering to hurting people is not easy. It is emotionally draining, time consuming and there are no magic formulas. And sometimes it is our own theology that is challenged.

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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Blog Tour : An Unholy Communion

This month's fiction blog tour is for: An Unholy Communion by Donna Fletcher Crow. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


2 - 6 September 2013


is introducing


Lion Hudson (1 April 2013)

by

Donna Fletcher Crow


About the Author:
"Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries." - Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries.

Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. To read more about all of Donna's books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to: www.donnafletchercrow.com.

You can follow her on Facebook at: http://ning.it/OHi0MY


About the Book:
First light, Ascension morning. From the top of the tower at the College of Transfiguration, voices rise in song. Felicity's delight turns to horror when a black-robed body hurtles over the precipice and lands at her feet. Her fiancé Father Antony recognizes the corpse as Hwyl Pendry, a former student, who has been serving as Deliverance Minister in a Welsh diocese. The police ignore the strange emblem of a double-headed snake clutched in the dead man's hand, labelling the death a suicide. But Hwyl's widow is convinced otherwise, and pleads for Felicity and Antony to help her uncover the truth.

Matters grow murkier as Felicity and Antony, leading a youth pilgrimage through rural Wales, encounter the same sinister symbol as they travel. Lurking figures follow them. Then a body is found face-down in a well …

"Donna Fletcher Crow gives us, in three extremely persuasive dimensions, the world that Dan Brown merely sketches." - Timothy Hallinan, author of The Queen of Patpong

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Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Devotional Thought : Job 21:39

Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts…? Job 21:29

Often we can be like Job’s friends and have selected memories or selected deafness. We are comfortable with our theology and sometimes we don’t appreciate people pointing out that what we believe is illogical or inconsistent with what we see in the world.

Job was pointing out to his friends that it was deceitful to say that the wicked are punished and the righteous are blessed in this life because clearly the evidence does not back up their claim. Job told his friends it was nonsense to believe this and their comfort was no comfort at all because it was based on lies (v.34).

Job expected his friends to use their minds, their brains, their common sense – to think, to enquire, to investigate, to consider the facts and not to respond out of traditional thought patterns that did not make sense. Having faith does not mean mindless adopting a set of principles. Faith is reasonable. It requires openness and thoughtfulness not blind acceptance.

Likewise Jesus encouraged his followers to carefully consider their faith decisions, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost…?” “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider…?” (Luke 14:28,31).

When we are seeking to comfort those that who suffer it is best to avoid simplistic answers. Suffering is a great mystery and we really don’t understand why some suffer so severely and others do not, even those who appear to us to be very sinful, may avoid tragedies.

Job’s friends were more comforting when they sat and said nothing (2:11-13) than when they gave superficial, unsubstantiated explanations.

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