Saturday, May 31, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 1:6

His father had never rebuked him by asking, “Why do you behave as you do?” He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom. 1 Kings 1:6

New Living Translation reads: "Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him [Adonijah] at any time." How tragic! Why didn't David ever discipline his son? Was it because David was never disciplined as a child or because he was harshly disciplined? David's family does seem to be a little dysfunctional (Psalm 27:10). Or perhaps the reference to being handsome suggests it was because Adonijah was very cute and this made it difficult for his father to discipline him?

Whatever the reason, since Adonijah had never been disciplined he felt he could do as he pleased. So he decides to take over as king despite the fact that God had given that role to Solomon (v.5).

Sadly Adonijah was so use to getting his own way that when his first attempt failed he tried again (2:15-17). Abishag was effectively David's wife. If Adonijah married her he was making a claim to the throne, therefore his request was effectively an act of treason. Yet he acknowledged that the Lord had given the kingdom to his brother (2:15). Demanding his own way brought Adonijah deadly results (2:25) and it all seems to have come about because he had never been disciplined.

When we discipline our children they learn that they cannot always have their own way. Allowing a child to do whatever they like does not prepare them for life, even if they are the king's son.

God had decided that Solomon would be king and his plans were not thwarted by the undisciplined son of the former king. Likewise God's plans for our lives will also not be thwarted by others either.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Bible calls Jesus "God"



I came across this post on Matt Stone's blog and thought these Scriptures were worth reposting:



John 20:28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Romans 9:5 ...Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Titus 2:13 ...the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ
Hebrews 1:8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever
2 Peter 1:1 To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Reflection : Year of Wonders

I won't be adding to the thousands of reviews of Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders on GoodReads and elsewhere, so instead I'll write a few reflections which will contain many spoilers.

Brooks apparently researched the historical accounts of the "plague town" and in the absence of a lot of anecdotal accounts, created a fictional story. However this is heavily biased by her own beliefs. At times it felt like Brooks had an underlying motive of bringing Christian faith into disrepute. Certainly I can understand people, even ministers, losing their faith during an extreme crisis and the rise of superstitions from grief and fear was perfectly understandable. However history would tell us that not everybody loses their faith in dire circumstances. Some even find faith or have their faith strengthen, and many find comfort in their faith when facing death. Yet there was no acknowledgement of this in Brooks' account. Anna involvement in the Muslim faith at the end is another indication to me of Brooks' desire to discredit Christianity.

It seems Brooks wanted to show that the minister's decision to encourage a voluntary quarantine of the town, while the plague ran its course, was wrong. Historically the statistics would show this was true as more people died in this town than elsewhere. However significantly less people died in the surrounding area, showing they did stop the disease spreading to other towns. Whether this would have happened anyway is debatable. Furthermore for some in the village, like Anna, they had no where to flee to anyway as it was unlikely that people from other towns, except close relatives, would provide refuge for people from a town where the plague was present. Also staying in the town guarantee them basic food and medicine which would not have been the case if they left.

I like, many others, was disappointed with the ending. As much as I do like a happy ending this one was such an abrupt change of pace, setting and context I found it unrealistic. I suppose Brooks wanted Anna to live happily ever after and thought it wouldn't happen if she stayed in the village. She probably didn't want the predictable, but more satisfying ending, of having her married to Michael. Yet it was actually difficult imaging Anna happy anywhere else apart from the village that she gave her heart and soul for. Amongst those who survived a great crisis there is often a strong sense of camaraderie but Brooks makes no mention of this. Revealing that Michael never had sex with his wife as penance at this point in the story was out of character and unnecessarily dramatic, but I suppose Brooks had to find an explanation as to why Anna didn't want to marry him.

The ending also left many other loose ends – what did Michael do? Did the village regroup? I expect it did since the village is still around today and didn't become the ghost town which you might expect from the way Brooks finished her story.

The story is beautifully told and written. If it had a better ending I wouldn't feel so dissatisfied.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Devotional Thought : Micah 5:4-5

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace. Micah 5:4-5

In order to convey comfort in times of crisis some people say "everything's going to be alright." Personally I don't find this comforting. I think to myself, "How do you know everything's going to be alright? Unless you are in charge of all future circumstances how could you possibly know that everything is going to be alright? The truth is, for all you know, things could get worse." Yet I don't express this thought out loud because I know their intentions are well meaning.

However in this prophesy in Micah, God is telling us everything is going to be alright. We will live securely and in peace. God has the capacity to say this because he is in charge of all future circumstances and he is responsible for all outcomes, therefore, he can guarantee the safety of those who trust in him. He brings comfort by giving us a sure hope.

This hope is based on his greatness. He tells he will shepherd his people. He will guard, care and direct his people like a shepherd looking after his sheep. Whereas a human shepherd may meet circumstances he can't control – excessive heat, flood, pests, but God never meets a circumstance that surprises him or one he can't change. He acts in strength and majesty that is, with power and authority over every situation. This gives us such confidence that we need never fear the future.

Only God is powerful enough to guarantee the security of his people. I can feel safe.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blog Tour : It's Just You & Me, Lord

This blog tour is for the non-fiction book: It's Just You & Me, Lord by Marion Stroud. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


19th – 23rd May 2014


is introducing


(Monarch Oct 13)

<
About the Book:
Women are most likely to express their deepest thoughts to a trusted friend. At its best, prayer is simply that; a conversation with a friend who is never too tired, too busy or too pre-occupied to listen and respond.

From personal prayers to prayers about family, friends and the wider world, interweaved with Scripture and thought provoking quotes, this inspirational resource helps women of all ages to genuinely connect with God,and build and maintain a strong prayer life.


About the Author:
Marion Stroud has written 3 children's books, and 23 non-fiction titles. She lives in Bedford UK the town in which John Bunyan wrote his famous Pilgrim's Progress. She is a cross cultural trainer for Media Associates International [www.littworld.org] which works to help Christian writers, editors and publishers write and publish culturally appropriate material in the 'spiritually hard places' of the world. You can contact marion at www.marionstroud.com

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Book Review : The Perfect Murder

I found the premise of The Perfect Murder by Peter James to be implausible – two people in an unhappy marriage plotting to kill each other. Why didn't they just get a divorce or separate? Apart from the constant bickering there seemed no motive for murder, no great monetary incentive and no children to consider.

However I have since read some reviews and discovered that those who enjoyed it found it amusing, something that was completely lost on me. The characters while not inherently evil were not likeable and at times were particularly stupid - perhaps this is what some found funny. I also found it a bit lazy to introduce a slightly ghostly aspect to the story.

Nevertheless James spins a good story. I found it is easy to read and mildly entertaining.

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Devotional Thought : Micah 2:10

Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy. Micah 2:10

God had great plans for his people when he settled them in the land he promised them. His purpose was for his people to be a model to other nations, showing them how good it is to live God's way. His people not only failed to achieve this and have a positive affect on the surrounding nations but rather they allowed other nations to negatively influence them. God was not surprised they would fail in their calling, but was disappointed nonetheless.

God intended the land of Israel to be a place of blessing and rest but they had defiled it by their sinful practices, their worship of other gods and the oppression of the poor. Micah suggested (rather sarcastically) that they should leave voluntarily rather than wait for God to remove them through the exile. Perhaps if they have repented God would have relented but mostly the people ignored the prophets and they were banished to Babylon for seventy years. We find this record in 2 Chronicles:

"He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his successors until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah" (36:20-21).

By not keeping the Sabbaths the Israelites showed a lack of trust in God. They wouldn't rest and rely on what God had provided so he took it from them.

It's a lesson for us, to rest in God's provision and trust that he will provide.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Robert Quinn Quote

"We have always had to agonize over the choice between making deep change or accepting slow death" ~ Robert Quinn in Deep Change : discovering the leader within.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Review : A Dream Come True

A Dream Come True by Maureen Lee is a pleasant story about Maggie, a woman in her early forties whose life has become dull and routine. She has been married for about twenty years but her husband has lost interest in the relationship. Through a chance meeting with a co-worker in another office, Maggie's life is turned around. She starts thinking about herself, her life and her career prospects very differently. In the end she gets her "dream come true".

While this is a happily ever after story, it comes at a great price which the author glibly ignores. The breakdown of a twenty year marriage is a painful occurrence, no matter that the love that was once there has vanished. Maggie is also natively short sighted about her own future and the long term implications of the decisions she has made.

Nevertheless, as part of the Quick Reads series, it was a well written engaging story.

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Devotional Thought : Nahum 3:4

"…all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft." Nahum 3:4

"The wanton lust of a prostitute" is a vivid description of excessive greed, always wanting more, and never being satisfied. It is the opposite of the position Paul took when he said, "…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation …" (Philippians 4:11-12).

Twice Paul says contentment is something that he has learnt. It is not something that comes naturally because our human instinct is to always want more and never be satisfied.

I haven't found it easy to be content in every situation. We live in a world where we are bombarded with images that create within us a desire to have something which we may not have even thought of owning prior to seeing it advertised. Or perhaps these images create a desire to have a better, smarter, newer version of something that we already own. It is easier to focus on what we don't have, rather than appreciate what we do.

I am grateful for a class I took at school which pointed out the subtle ways advertisers attract potential buyers. Furthermore I have learnt not to spend too much time reading advertising brochures or taking notice of television adverts. I have practised being more grateful. I focus on God and remind myself if something is necessary for my contentment, God would have already given it to me.

Nevertheless it is still a challenge, yet as I develop these disciplines I find myself becoming more content.

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Blog Tour : Imogen's Chance

This blog tour is for the fiction book: Imogen's Chance by Paula Vince. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review is here.


5th – 9th May 2014


is introducing


(Even Before Publishing April 2014)


About the Book:
She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.

A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?


About the Author:
Paula Vince's youth was brightened by great fiction and she's on a mission to pay it forward. A wife and homeschooling mother, she loves to highlight the beauty of her own country in her stories. Most of them are set in the lovely Adelaide Hills, where she lives. Paula's books are a skillful blend of drama and romance. Together with elements of mystery and suspense, you will keep turning pages.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Book Review : Imogen's Chance

This book 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.

Paula has again chosen a challenging theme for the basis of her novel, Imogen's Chance – a young man faced with a serious illness and a young women living with regrets. I liked the originality of the story line and the well drawn characters. The story was easy to read and moved at a good pace.

However, for me, the best part of the story was how the main characters wrestled with issues of faith. Both grew up in Christian contexts and were familiar with the Bible and Biblical principles, even though they were not well modelled within their families. So while they knew about faith they struggled to grasp its relevance for their lives. I enjoyed the way Paula showed a way forward for those who want a faith that is real and not one that is merely inherited.

**Spoiler Alert**

I was interested that Ash went into remission after two treatments of chemotherapy. My husband also had cancer (20 years ago) and went into remission after the first of six treatments, however the doctors expected him to finish the course, for preventative reasons. Since my husband had no conviction to do otherwise he completed all the treatments. The assumption in this story seemed to be that Ash did not need to continue with treatment, which I found a little troubling. However this did not distract from my overall enjoyment of the book.

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

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Devotional Thought : Nahum 2:6

The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses. Nahum 2:6

Nahum prophesied the downfall of Nineveh. However, unlike their previous response to Jonah, this time the Ninevites were unmoved. They thought they were safe because the city was protected. It was surrounded by water – rivers, moats, etc. Their trust was in their defences which they thought were impenetrable. "The river was her defense, the waters her wall" (3:8). But the river flooded during a storm, the walls were breached and the enemy entered.

Likewise we can think we are safe but a storm can bring down our defences. If we avoid certain situations or certain people we may feel safe. If we stick to familiar routines, we may feel safe. If we have reliable friends who support us, we may feel safe. Even Niveveh had Cush, Egypt, Put and Libya as allies (3:9) but it was not enough.

We easily trust our own defences but God is the only real security. Not that God will always rescue us with a miracle if a storm occurs, but rather God's character is unchanging and can be relied on. "The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). When we put our faith in the name of the Lord – in his character – then we are safe.

God is our true security. He will be with us, strengthening us to cope with whatever comes our way. We can always approach him with confidence to receive mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Putting our faith in human resources to provide a sense of security is deficient but trusting in God's character will give us peace.

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Richard Dawkins leading people to faith

People finding faith after reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I love the irony.

Is Richard Dawkins leading people to Jesus?


Reading Richard Dawkins led to my conversion.

Previously I commented on this interview with a similar outcome: Former Atheist Richard Morgan's Interview.

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