Saturday, August 30, 2014

Devotional Thought : 2 Kings 5:13

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 2 Kings 5:13

So often we want God to give us something important to do, something that others will notice, something that will impressed others. Or we want God to use us to heal someone in an obvious way rather than have our prayers answered by a gradual improvement over time. Or we want God to use our prayers to intervene in a dramatic way rather than in small increments. Instead we find God asking us to do the small, unimportant, unnoticed tasks – a prayer here, a helping hand there, without any noticeable miracles.

The problem is that we don't see these small tasks as significant. They don't appear to make a difference so we are reluctant to complete them. We don't see the bigger picture that God has in mind. In Exodus God told the Israelites that they would drive out the enemy "little by little" and in the process they would grow (23:30). This is what God is looking for – spiritual growth.

Naaman couldn't see the big picture. God wasn't just interested in healing his body but wanted him to grow spiritually. God sees humility is a valuable fruit in a person's life and God may put people through difficult situations to see it produced. It might mean being placed in a humbling circumstance like Naaman, where there is no audience, no applause or fanfare.

What will our attitude be to the small insignificant tasks that God asks us to fulfil? Are we grateful for God's help however it comes to us? Or are we more concern about outward appearances?

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Random thoughts on prayer

Sometimes I'm like the Israelites in Exodus 20:19 where they say to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

I become content with second hand messages from God. I am afraid of being intimate with God, afraid of being alone in God’s presence. I don’t know what area of my life God will bring to my attention. He may challenge me to be more generous, to be more gracious, or to be more humble. Maybe he will really take me out of my comfort zone by asking to do something I haven’t done before. In God’s presence nothing is out of bounds and I am reminded of the Jean Church quote: "God is changeless. He will be unusual, He won't strike an average anywhere. He will get out of bounds and meet us on any level with His patience and His love and His bounty."

Yes, there are days when I am tempted to keep God at arm’s length, but I find when I do, my faith becomes dull, boring, and hard work.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review : Humble Pie

Humble Pie by Gordon Ramsay is an autobiographical account of Ramsay's rise to a celebrity chef and restaurateur.

It begins with an honest and disturbing account of growing up in a home where domestic violence was viewed as acceptable. Ramsay's family moved often due to his father's irresponsibility which disrupted Gordon's schooling as well as being emotionally difficult.

Ramsay had a promising future playing football but this was curtailed by injury. Instead he managed to gain entry into a catering college. On completion he quickly obtained work in various restaurants and gained experience working under a number of chefs. He was 32 when he opened his first restaurant. His strong work ethic, persistence and determination are very apparent.

Ramsay is well known for his bad language and quick temper. This is also obvious in his book but is more forgivable when you read of his father's abuse and neglect.

Humble Pie is part of the Quick Reads series and an interesting portrayal of Ramsay's life.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Devotional Thought : 2 Kings 4:6

When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing. 2 Kings 4:6

Although the widow collected as many jars as possible, in accordance with Elisha's directive, eventually they were all full. The implication is, if she could have found more jars, there would have been more oil.

It provides a picture of the Christian. The more emptiness we have the more God is able to fill us but if our lives are cluttered, overly busy and distracted then there is less room for God.

In the parable of the seed we read: "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful" (Mark 4:19).

It lists three things which prevent God from working in our lives: the worries of this life; the deceitfulness of wealth; and the desires for other things. If we are overly consumed with the concerns of everyday life or if we think money is the answer to our problems or if we are focussed on what we do not have then we prevent God from making our life a blessing.

God looks for the heart where there is a willingness to put aside our busyness, a desire that is beyond material blessings and an emptiness that we know we cannot fill ourselves. In this heart God can nurture his seed so it grows fruitfully to maturity.

Often we don't want to experience this kind of emptiness, where we feel inadequate and vulnerable. Yet it is this very humility that is attractive to God as it is an honest assessment of our spiritual state.

God's filling is dependant on our emptiness.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blog Tour : Dynamic Ageing

This blog tour is for the non-fiction book: Dynamic Ageing by Ray Hawkins. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review can be found here.


18th – 22nd August 2014


is introducing


(Even Before Publishing, 1 February 2014)

by

Ray Hawkins

About the Book:
Discover how to make the ageing experience into an adventure. Join the Lord's plan for ageing dynamically. Understand why God's seniors are priceless. God's grace for dynamic ageing more than compensates for physical limitations.

About the Author: Ray Hawkins, retired after over 40 years as a Churches of Christ minister, enjoys sharing themes from the Scriptures through Devotional writing. Married to Mary, multi-published inspirational romance author, they have three children and five grandchildren. Ray shares his insights in his first two books on Marriage and Children with more ideas to come about ministry and much more. Living in Beauty Point Tasmania Ray heads up a new Christian Fellowship as well as doing relief preaching, community work and writing.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review : Dynamic Ageing

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.

I have now read several of Ray's devotional books and this one has quickly become my favourite. Possibly because it is the one I most relate to as my husband is planning to go into semi-retirement in the near future so Ray's thoughts on this stage of life were very helpful.

Ray covers a range of issues associated with ageing: health, leisure, spiritual activities etc. He provides beneficial insights and a spiritual perspective on this phase of life. He quotes from a large range of Scriptures which are relevant and reinforces that God has a lot to say about our later years. Ray is also very encouraging about God's plan and purpose and reminds us that we never retire from worshipping and serving the Lord though the format of these things will change.

Overall a very encouraging and helpful book that I'm sure to visit again in the coming years.

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

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Devotional Thought : 2 Kings 3:27

Then he took his firstborn son, who was to succeed him as king, and offered him as a sacrifice on the city wall. The fury against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land. 2 Kings 3:27

It was normal for a new king to have his authority challenged. So when Joram became king of Israel, following the death of his father Ahab, it was not surprising that Mesha, the king of Moab rebelled and resisted paying tribute (v.4-5). Joram's intention in attacking Moab was simply to subdue the Moabites so they would continue paying tribute to Israel and he could re-establish Israel's kingdom.

However the battle became so important to Mesha that he sacrificed his first born son, in the mistaken belief that the gods would look favourably upon him and enable him to win the battle. Instead of growing up to be king the child becomes a sacrificial victim. How sad when parents sacrifice their children because of selfish ambition for power and control.

Some do this today. They live vicariously through their children. Perhaps pressurizing them to obtain some sort of worldly achievement or success and use this to obtain status and prestige for themselves. Perhaps by insisting they become pastors or missionaries and thus satisfy a calling they could not or would not fulfil themselves. Perhaps by bulling them into a profession they are unsuited to or by not supporting their choices in sport or hobbies.

It is not God's intention that we ever sacrifice our children. He made them unique individuals with their own set of abilities and talents. Forcing them into our plans for their lives deprives them of God given opportunities. It also interferes with the plans God has for us which are far better than merely controlling the lives of our children.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Andre Rieu's 10th Anniversary Concert

Recently my husband and I went to the cinema to watch Andre Rieu 10th Anniversary Concert in Maastricht. It was very enjoyable. The musicians played smoothly and effortlessly which only comes from hours of practice.

It is interesting that when it comes to things like learning a musical instrument or becoming competent at a sport we recognize practice and training as an investment. However when it comes to writing we don't always see what we write as an investment unless it is being read.

When my daughter was six, she showed some interested in learning music and we organized for her to have piano lessons. However she expected me to sit and listen to her practice. With two other younger children this was not going to happen and the lessons were abandoned. Sometimes as writer we expect others to sit and read everything we write as if it is concert standard already.

Writing, like playing a musical instrument or professional sport, requires practice and sometime no one will read it, no one will see it, no one will hear it, yet if we keep on writing the investment will pay off.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review : Girl meets God

Girl meets God by Lauren Winner is Lauren's memoir of a spiritual quest. Lauren comes to Christian faith with a unique perspective as she was born to a Jewish father and a lapsed Baptist mother. Although she was brought up Jewish, she was not considered an Orthodox Jew until she chose to complete the rituals to become one and, for some Jews, not even then.

However it almost seems that in the process of becoming a Jew she found Christ, although the chronology is not entirely clear. The decision left her with a dilemma. What was she to tell her Jewish friends and the Jewish community to which she belonged? How could she explain her new found faith after committing her allegiance to Judaism?

Circumstances allowed her to spend some time in England where she was able to grow in her Christian faith and be baptised while being somewhat isolated from her Jewish roots. However on her return she realizes that her friends feel betrayed by her acceptance of Christianity.

The material is organised around the church calendar rather than strictly chronologically which is a little confusing but perhaps Lauren did this as a way of protecting the privacy of some of her family and friends or as a way of focussing on elements of faith rather than herself.

Girl Meets God takes you on a fascinating journey exploring Christianity from a Jewish mindset. I found it insightful and enjoyable to explore Jewish thought and perception from this perspective. Lauren writes honestly about her struggles and her ongoing quest for truth. Her background and her character provide an unusual slant on issues of faith and makes for an absorbing read.

A quote from the book is here.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 21:27-29

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son. 1 Kings 21:27-29

It is amazing that someone as evil as Ahab is capable of genuine repentance. The previous verses tell us just how evil Ahab was, "There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the Lord drove out before Israel" (v.25-26). Ahab not only sinned himself but caused Israel to sin by encouraging idol worship.

Furthermore Ahab was in Naboth's vineyard when Elijah came to him. Jezebel had arranged a mock court to have Naboth stoned to death because he would not sell his vineyard to Ahab. As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he went there to claim ownership of the vineyard (v.16).

Yet in spite of all this, he repented. What was in God's judgement that touched Ahab's heart? Was it guilt over Naboth's vineyard? Or that God was going to wipe out his descendants? Or that dogs would devour his wife?

It is difficult to know what the turning point was for Ahab, but God will allow disasters to befall if it leads to repentance and when Ahab finally repented, God noticed. It gives us such hope to know that God is so merciful that he even relents from sending disaster upon one such as Ahab.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Blog Tour : A Jane Austen Encounter

This blog tour is for the novel: A Jane Austen Encounter by Donna Fletcher Crow. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance


4th - 8th August 2014


is introducing


(Stone House Ink February 2014)

by

Donna Fletcher Crow


About the Book:
Join Elizabeth and Richard on the Jane Austen trail. Visit all the sites so redolent of Jane and her characters in the beautiful city of Bath, stay in the Chawton House Library and visit the charming cottage where Jane's writing flowered and the nearby Steventon church where her father was rector and her own faith established, stand by her grave in Winchester Cathedral, and enjoy your time at the lovely country estate of Godmersham. But don't let your guard down. Evil lurks even in the genteel world of Jane Austen.


About the Author:
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels of British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an 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 13 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

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Book Review: Behind Closed Doors

Behind Closed Doors by Sarah Webb provides an interesting insight into the friction that often exists between career women and stay at home mums. Both groups are somewhat self-focussed and have little tolerance of the different choices others have made.

The story focuses on Amy a young woman in a relationship but not ready for the obligations of children. She tries to stay in touch with her friends who are now married with children but finds this difficult, particularly when they show no empathy towards her situation.

The story moves through a few twists and reveals that neither group has the perfect life that they like to portray and that understanding and tolerance would go a long way to making for more peaceful relationships.

Behind Closed Doors is an interesting read and part of the Quick Reads series.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Devotional Thought : 1 Kings 20:23

Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, "Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they." 1 Kings 20:23

Note God's response: "This is what the Lord says: 'Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.'"

God used the Arameans' words to deliberately reveal his character to his people and let them know whatever the battle field he is still Lord.

Sometimes we do something similar to the Aramenas, we limit God by thinking he will only help in a big crisis not a small one. By thinking he will only help if it is a spiritual crisis not a physical one or he will only help if I've prayed, meditated or fasted long enough. Sometimes we place limits on God's ability in order to protect ourselves from disappointment. Maybe God won't answer in the way we hoped.

Yet God wants us to know whatever situation he is Lord. Whether he answers our prayers in the way we want or not, he is Lord. Whether things are going well or we are struggling with problems, he is still Lord. Whether we are on the heights of joy or in the depths of despair, he is still Lord.

Our view of God requires enlarging. There is more is at stake than our comfort. God's plans are bigger and better than we can imagine. He will allow circumstances and difficulties to push the limits of our faith so we will know whatever the situation, he is Lord.

Technorati StumbleUpon Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo