Saturday, June 28, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 10:26, 28

Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem… Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt… 1 Kings 10:26, 28

In the following chapter we are told that it was Solomon's wives who turned his heart away from the Lord: "As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been" (1 Kings 11:4).

However, consider this verse from Deuteronomy: "The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, 'You are not to go back that way again'" (Deuteronomy 17:16).

Before Solomon's wives led him astray, he had greatly increased his ownership of horses and chariots. His great wealth made it a simple thing to import horses from Egypt, even though God warned against it. In this we see that Solomon had already begun to rely on his own resources for security and protection rather than God. It was then an easy thing for his wives to turn his heart away from the Lord because he was putting his confidence in what he had acquired by his own strategy.

Instead of heeding God's warnings, Solomon shored up his own military strength which inadvertently weakened his position with his wives. One apparently insignificant act of disobedience prepared the way for another and ultimately to his downfall.

Whenever we look to our own resources for protection or prestige, for comfort or confidence, for security or safety we are in danger of moving our hearts away from being fully devoted to the Lord.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

On being spectators

My church recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. There was a special guest speaker for the weekend who spoke from a couple of passages in Mark. On Sunday morning he spoke about the fig tree in Mark 11.

The speaker pointed out that our culture encourages a spectator mentality. So much in our society is designed for our entertainment and this attitude sometimes carries over into the church. We go to church expecting good music, good preaching, comfortable seating, and a warm or cool building (depending on the season). We expect the most talented musicians to play, the most talented people to speak and in doing so we encourage a spectator mentality where the majority in the congregation never use their gifts and abilities.

When Jesus went over to the fig tree he expected to find figs because, although it was not the time for fully grown figs, the leaves suggested there would be immature, yet edible fruit. However there was not. There were only leaves – a good performance but no fruit. Our churches can be the same, that is, a good performance but no fruit, not even young, immature fruit. For a church to produce fruit it requires everyone in the congregation to play their part and discover their gifting and unique contribution so that together we can be Jesus to the world.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Reflection : The Corpse's Tale

Last week I posted a book review of The Corpse's Tale here. This week I'm reflecting on an underlying theme in the book.

Although a fictional story I found the villagers' attitude towards David Morgan very insightful. David was the man disabled at birth due to lack of oxygen to his brain leaving him with the mind of a child. The villagers were quick to assume he was guilty of a murder though he had never shown any sign of violent behaviour.

Furthermore those who really were behind the murder showed no concern that David was locked up for 10 years as if his life didn't count for much because of his disability. Yet David's true contribution to the village becomes apparent during his absence. The church grounds and graveyard are overgrown from neglect and other odd jobs around the town are left undone. It becomes apparent why David's nickname was, Dai Helpful.

The Corpse's Tale, as well as being a good murder mystery also causes the reader to consider people's worth regardless of their intellectual ability and the value of their contribution to society.

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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 9:8-9

This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, "Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?" People will answer, "Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them." 1 Kings 9:8-9

Immediately following the completion of the temple, God gives his people this warning. Interestingly God won't have to announce from heaven his reasons for abandoning the temple, the land or his people, and it is not just the people themselves who will know why disaster has come upon them but, "all peoples" (v.7).

This reminds us that as Christians we are being watched. Often those outside of faith are acutely aware of our Christian stance and they are watching to see if we are living out what we say we believe. Do we act like we trust God or are we easily angered when things don't go our way? Are we seeking fame and fortune as the goal of our life or are we seeking to live a godly life? Are we peaceful and secure even during stressful times or do we worry and fret like others without faith?

Not that we have to be perfect or pretend to be perfect but rather is there evidence in our life that having faith makes a positive difference? Would anyone notice the fruit of our lives as being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It provides us with incentive to press on with our spiritual lives, look at ways of developing our faith and to take spiritual disciplines seriously.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blog Tour : Dear God, It's Me And It's Urgent

This blog tour is for the non-fiction book: Dear God, It's Me And It's Urgent by Marion Stroud. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


16th – 20th June


is introducing


(Monarch Oct 13)

by

Marion Stroud


About the Book:
Dear God It's Me and It's Urgent' provides prayers for private devotion and meditation, or for sharing with other women. Inspiring and challenging they are rooted firmly in everyday life. Topics range from A Bride's Prayer on the Eve of her Wedding, Reluctant Hospitality and After Chemotherapy, mixing wisdom and compassion with a touch of humour. In a world where people often seem too busy to listen or care God is always available. No appointment is required


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, June 17, 2014

Book Review : The Corpse's Tale

The Corpse's Tale by Katherine John was an excellent mystery in the quick Reads series. It tells the story of a disabled man, David Morgan who was charged with the murder of Anna Harris – a young, attractive drama student. Ten years later David is released from prison still protesting his innocence.

Sergeant Trevor Joseph and his team reopen the case to discover new evidence and wonder why this was not uncovered at the time of David's arrest.

The author, Katherine John does a great job of leaving all the necessary clues to solve this murder throughout the book. However I still did not realize who the real murderer was until the end. It is a very well constructed story.

A very enjoyable murder mystery.

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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 7:23

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. 1 Kings 7:23

If the diameter was 10 cubits then the circumference would actually be 31.4 cubits. Though the text isn't clear whether they measured the inside or outside of the bowl.

Nevertheless when I was a teenager at school another student claimed the Bible isn't accurate because of this mathematical discrepancy, which I found laughable. This passage was probably written about 800 BC and was never intended to be used as a mathematical formula. The Bible doesn't claim to be a mathematical book.

The Bible is also not intended to be a science book, it is a theological book. It is not a book about how things work, but a book about why – the meaning behind it all. Why there is an earth, when there just as easily could be nothing. Why there are people, when there just as easily could have been none. Why people have some sense of right and wrong, when they just as easily could not.

Christians run into danger when they expect the Bible to tell them how God created the world. God did not think 'the how' was important. There are only two chapters on creation and scant references elsewhere. Jesus did not seem to discuss the topic at all. Nevertheless the why is important. From Genesis to Revelation we see God's desire to have a people in relationship with himself.

When reading the Bible we need to bear in mind the type of literature it is. It is not a mathematical or science book but a book of stories, poetry and prophesies, written to enable people to know God.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grace! Grace!

I heard Jentezen Franklin, via his website, speaking on Zechariah 4:6-10. He encouraged us to declare "Grace! Grace!" over the unfinished work of God in our lives and in the life of our churches.

My Bible version translates this as, "God bless it! God bless it!" (v.7) which is the same thought that unless we have God's blessing, his enabling grace, we cannot finish those tasks he has given us to do. In the passage Zerubbabel's work was to finish the temple. The work had come to a standstill as the people had become overwhelmed by the opposition but now the Lord was asking Zerubbabel to continue the work.

Sometimes I find the tasks God assigns me are more than I can handle and I feel overwhelmed. Yet I know that as I acknowledge my dependency on God and declare, "Grace! Grace!" over the unfinished work in my life, I will see God bring to completion all he has in mind.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review : The Grey Man

It was a refreshing change to read a story about a happily married couple in the Grey Man by Andy McNab. Kevin and Linda Dodds live a content but routine life in England. Kevin is the deputy manager of a bank branch while his wife works in a Specsavers store.

Kevin is "the grey man" – unremarkable, unnoticed, uninspired but one day he decides he has had enough of being put down by his boss and others. He initiates a plan to rob the bank where he works.

McNab manages to create a surprising amount of suspense in this short book which is part of the Quick Reads series. He quickly establishes the characters and creates a believable scenario which leads you to wonder how the situation is going to be resolved.

It is a satisfying, enjoyable tale, even though it does glorify robbery.

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 4:20

The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 1 Kings 4:20

This is the high point in the book of Kings, perhaps the high point in the entire history of Israel. The country enjoyed peace with its enemies. There was security, relationships, belonging and sustenance. Their basic needs were met and they were happy. Solomon was a wise king and good administrator. Early in Solomon's reign the people were committed to keeping the covenant and they were blessed.

But Solomon, despite his great wisdom, foolishly allowed his wives to turn his heart away from following the Lord wholeheartedly (1 Kings 11:4). Maybe it even began when he bought numerous horses (1 Kings 10:26), ignoring God's command (Deuteronomy 17:16-17) and trusting in his own resources instead of the Lord.

It wasn't just one bad decision that Solomon made but a series of small decisions over a period of time. The downhill slide began and the nation divided. It never really recovered. Israel only ever had evil kings and Judah only a handful of good kings.

I wonder why at some point the people didn't realize that their happiness came from living God's way and return to the following the Lord wholeheartedly. Just because the king started worshipping idols, why did the people follow suit? How easily they were lead astray.

When others, even leaders, are not living God's way, believers have the choice of who they are going to follow. Will we remain committed when others are not? Will we have the wisdom to see trusting in our own resources is short sighted? Will we marry unwisely and comprise our own beliefs?

It is numerous small decisions over time which determines the outcome of our lives.

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Blog Tour : Charter to Redemption

This blog tour is for the fiction book: Charter to Redemption by D.J. Blackmore. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.


2nd to 6th May


is introducing


(Even Before Publishing 1st May 2014)

by

D.J. Blackmore


About the Book:
At the close of 1821, the penal colony of Newcastle looks to be every bit as black as it's painted. Emma Colchester charters a ride to Australia with a promise of marriage to a man she has never met. But appearances aren't always as they seem. And with a commitment unavoidable Emma learns that shackles are not always forged from iron. Tobias Freeman longs for redemption and hope. After a rough journey to New South Wales, Tobias learns the rations, the regulations, and the reprisal. But neither Emma nor Tobias expect the repercussions.


About the Author:
D.J. Blackmore grew up in the wine growing region of the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and is currently based in Central Queensland. She draws inspiration for her historical fiction novels from her love of age-old crafts such as spinning and cheese making. She considers being the mother of five, her greatest achievement.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Book Review : Charter to Redemption

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.

Charter to Redemption by D.J. Blackmore is the story of a young girl, Emma who agrees to marry Gideon Quinn on her aunt's commendation. Gideon is a soldier stationed in Newcastle, New South Wales. So Emma embarks on the long sea journey to Australia. Also on the ship is Tobias Freeman. Circumstances have conspired against Tobias and he finds himself condemned as a convicted criminal. On Emma's arrival in Newcastle she is shocked to discover that Gideon is not at all like his photo. However Emma is a person of integrity and feels she must keep her promise.

The thing I liked most about this story was half way through I had no idea how the author was going to resolve the situation. Yet the story was resolved satisfactorily and plausibly by the end. I also enjoyed the way Emma came to a place of contentment in difficult circumstances. I thought Blackmore did a good job of describing the heat and the landscape of Australia as well as the relationships within Emma's extended family, all making the story feel realistic.

I would have liked another chapter or epilogue to savour the resolution and bring about more closure to some of the minor characters. However, overall an enjoyable story.

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

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