Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Towards Belief – Church Abuse

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at Church Abuse.

• Abuse in churches is more difficult because it is an abuse of trust and goes against the church's teaching on morality
• Perpetrators target churches because of their easy access to children and people are more trusting
• Perpetrators groom not only children but also church leaders
• Disappointing because the Christian message ought to make a difference in people's lives
• Worst in Catholic Churches because they run more orphanages and schools
• Attitudes that fosters abuse: Concept of an angry God; living by moral laws and not personal responsibility; celibacy
• Abuse goes against what Christians believe
• Forgiveness is the great thing about Christianity but is dangerous for offenders who may not have repented
• In repentance we take responsibility for our actions and admitting the truth to others (even the police)
• We all have a responsibility to keep children safe
• Churches are becoming safer places, there are more safeguards in place, heightened awareness, and training
• God is our only hope of healing

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Devotional Thought : Exodus 40:34

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:34

God's desire has always been to dwell with his people. Here at the end of Exodus we see a glimpse of God dwelling with his people – the first time since the Garden of Eden, but it had been an ordeal.

After God's people left Egypt, God expressed his long held desire to Moses: “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them" (Exodus 25:8). However following the incident with the golden calf Moses had to move the Tent of Meeting "some distance" from the camp (33:7). Sin had broken their relationship with God.

Moses interceded for the people. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance” (34:9). God granted Moses request. God's desire to dwell with his people was so strong that he was prepared to deal with the sin problem. Instead of removing his Presence from the sinner he removed their sin. It is a picture of what Jesus would do to solve the sin problem for good.

The tabernacle was built. It represented not only the place where God dwelt among them but also the place where God forgave.

It was a long journey from the Garden to this point and an even longer journey to Pentecost where God would dwell with people through his Holy Spirit. And the final fulfilment is still future, "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Towards Belief – Exclusive Faith

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at Exclusive Faith:

• All faiths are exclusive (eg someone who believes all roads lead to God excludes those who believe only some roads lead to God)
• Christians are seen as arrogant yet it is just as arrogant to claim all paths lead to God
• There are three groups of world religions: Eastern, Secular and Abrahamic
• World religions are different and have contradictory beliefs so they can't all be true
• All faiths believe they have the truth, even atheists. No group wants to compromise their faith by including others who believe differently. It is disrespectful to ask them to do so
• Political correctness stifles good conversation
• Media focuses on the noisy minority
• If you say that there is no absolute truth you are stating an absolute
• Christians need to present the gospel in a way that says, "God is worthy of your mind"
• There are good, wonderful, true things in all religions
• The uniqueness of Christianity is seen in the incarnation and in giving hope
• Other religions are about chasing after God; Christianity is about God chasing after us

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas.

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Devotional Thought : Exodus 38:8

They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Exodus 38:8

It is quite intriguing that this is the first mention of women serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. We don't know who these women were or what they actually did – apart from donating their mirrors.

Some believe they preformed cleaning duties, like a modern day church cleaning roster. However the word used here for service is a specific type of service that has military overtones. It is the same word used to describe the duties of the Levite priests. They were fulfilling an important role without attracting much attention, even in a male dominated environment.

In the culture of the time, which was very much a 'war culture,' they understood God in terms of a Great Warrior. The priests and these women believed they were engaging in spiritual warfare as they went about their tasks. The language reflects this perspective.

Today as we serve the Lord in different capacities within the life of our churches do we think of our duties as spiritual warfare? By devoting our time and energy to our local gathering of believers we are announcing to the heavenlies that we believe this is a worthwhile use of our resources. The outworking of our faith makes a powerful statement to the spiritual forces that would oppose us and fulfils the purposes of God: "His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 3:10).

We know that our labour is not in vain, regardless of the type of service we perform, because ultimately we are serving the Lord.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review : Birds and Fish

Birds and fish is a board book and part of the Creation Series by Claire Osborne. It is based on the fifth day of creation according to the Genesis account.

The book contains a simple message that God created the birds of the air and the fish in the sea. It focuses on the variety and beauty of these creatures. They were created by a loving God not in a haphazard way but with a purpose to be a blessing. The book has a pleasant rhyming pattern and lovely pictures drawn by Heidi Hendriks.

It would be a great addition to a child's library.

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Towards Belief - Religious Violence

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at Religious Violence:

• Passionate commitment to ideology causes wars. Anything people get passionate about can cause violence eg. land rights, politics, religion
• Atheists Mao Tse-tong, Stalin and Hitler killed 100,000,000 people between them
• Not all the violence in the Bible recorded in the Bible is approved of, in fact some is recorded to point out how bad things were
• War was part of Old Testament culture
• Some of the descriptions of warfare are rhetoric, typical of the time period
• Christianity has always had a pacifist stream as well as Christian soldiers
• Often religion is used as an excuse or pretext for violence
• Are those who claim to take up arms for Christian causes obeying or disobeying Jesus?
• Are wars a genuine expression of Christianity as seen in the life of Jesus?
• Many religious wars were caused because people weren't Christian enough
• Just because you claim to be Christian doesn't mean you are – Saddam claimed to be a democratic leader

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Devotional Thought : Exodus 36:2

Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work. Exodus 36:2

There are many talented people with huge amounts of ability but it is not enough. The truly skilful ones are those who have honed their talent over time. They are the ones who have spent hours learning, studying and training. The successful ones are those who are willing to do the work to achieve in their chosen sphere.

When Moses was looking for workers he wanted two qualities – God given skill and willingness to do the work.

Sometimes we think that if our ability is God given we don't need to practise. Yet this is not so. Even if our gift is healing, evangelism or intercession, we can always learn from our spiritual predecessors and mentors by reading books and listening to others who are more mature in faith. God always has more to teach us if we are open to growing in our gifting.

Unfortunately there are those who are not willing to do the work. They are invited to take part in an event but they come without having done the necessary preparation and expect God to make up for their lack. Maybe they remember occasions when God did use them or others when they were inexperienced or young in the faith. But this was not to be taken as an excuse to remain immature. Likewise they may have seen God work through situations in a spontaneous fashion but again this is not a reason for neglecting to be prepared.

If we want God to use our skills on an ongoing basis are we willing to do the work and be like Bezalel and Oholiab?

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review : Wonderfully Madison

Penny Reeve has written a lovely story of a young girl, Madison, whose Mum is expecting a baby. Children with younger siblings will relate to this story.

Madison is not excited about this new arrival but while staying with her grandparents she learns that we are all wonderfully made, even her new little sister. The story acknowledges that having a new addition to the family may not be happy news for other children in the family. The story moves on to a place of acceptance and joy at the arrival of the new baby.

Jemima Trappel has done a great job creating illustrations that fit well with the story.

A good book to read to children who are expecting a new sibling, I particularly loved the descriptions of Madison's lips!

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Towards Belief – The Supernatural

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at the Supernatural:

• The Bible is full of supernatural events
• Christians believe that miraculous events still happen
• When asked the question: have you had instances in your life that have made you think that there is a supernatural? Many people will say yes
• The philosopher Hume and others believed that miracles weren't violations of the natural law and that the natural law could not be violated thus denying the miraculous
• Other cultures are more open to supernatural experiences and have eye witness accounts of miracles eg Congo
• God is active when nature behaves regularly as well as when it behaves oddly
• Jesus' resurrection – miraculous occurrence – was part of the core beliefs of Christianity within 5 years of Jesus' death
• Miracles are a foretaste of God's kingdom
• Miracles are not consistent or predictable because God doesn't want robots
• Miracles let us know God cares which gives us hope

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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Devotional Thought : Exodus 32:5

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” Exodus 32:5

In Egyptian and other cultures the bull was highly valued. "The Egyptians viewed the bull as the vehicle on which a god rode in power, and as such they identified it as divine itself" (Constable's Commentary).

From Aaron's point of view he was still worshipping the Lord but doing so via means of the calf. This was clearly not what God intended and it created such a rift between God and his people that Moses pitched the Tent of Meeting outside the Israelites camp "some distance away" (Exodus 33:7). God wanted to dwell in the midst of his people but their attitude drove him away.

Aaron's problem began when Moses was a long time on the mountain (v.1). When nothing appeared to be happening Aaron took circumstances into his own hands. We also see this in Saul's life when he offered the sacrifice himself instead of waiting for Samuel (1 Samuel 13:8-14) and in the life of Abraham when he fathered a child through Hagar (Genesis 16:2). Likewise we create problems when we do God's work our way.

Today many worship God according to their timetable, their convenience and their traditions but it does not draw them any closer to him. In fact, it drives God away. God will not be worshipped according to a man made formula.

Later Jesus would say to the woman at the well: "A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks." (John 4:23).

God is still seeking those who will worship him in spirit and truth.

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Blog Tour : A New Resolution

This month's fiction blog tour is for: A New Resolution by Rose Dee. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.

2 - 6 December

is introducing

(Even Before Publishing October 2012)


Rose Dee

About the Book:
Resolution Island is a safe haven for Anika Demeur - a chance to fulfil dreams, find her place in the world, and a new life for her and young son, Kye. But her dreams of a future are shattered when her son's security is challenged, and the rich and privileged Texan, Nate Hollingsworth sails into the bay. Now Ani must not only fight for her son, but also a growing attraction she has to the one type of man she loathes.

Nate is on a mission - to fulfill his mother's last wish, and change his life. Dropping anchor in the idyllic Resolution harbor, he didn't anticipate becoming involved in illegal fishing, a murder, or an unexpected attraction to the most exasperating woman he has ever met.

The Australian tropical Island, Resolution, sets the scene again for adventures, dreams, and new beginnings. A New Resolution is the final book in the 'Resolution' trilogy, following Back to Resolution and Beyond Resolution.

About the Author:
Rose Dee was born in Ingham, North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel. Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, decided to try her hand at writing two years ago. The result of that attempt is her first novel, Back to Resolution. Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. Rose's other releases include Beyond Resolution - the second book in the 'Resolution' series. And A New Resolution the final book in the series. Rose has also co-written a novel in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian Authors: The Greenfield Legacy. Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Towards Belief – The Bible

Continuing with a more in depth review of the DVD series – Towards Belief. This week looking at the Bible:

• It is not one book but a collection of books, written over a long period of time and written within cultures
• The literary genres cover ancient biographies, histories, poems, letters, creation narratives and apocalypse literature (wild symbolism)
• It is both a religious and a historical document
• The high number of manuscript copies is tremendous protection against fraud
• Gospels rely heavily on eye witnesses and follow typical pattern of other ancient biographies – they read like real history.
• Gospels were written close to the time when Jesus lived
• Contradictions are often different accounts of the same event
• Source outside the Bible contain evidence and mention other Biblical characters which validates the Bible

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