Saturday, July 30, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 26:11-12

I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12

This blessing was based on Israel not worshipping idols (v. 1) and keeping the Sabbath (v. 2). Why these two things?

Not worshipping idols means having no other basis for our self-esteem other than being a child of God. Often we look to earthly things to provide for us what only God can. We may look to our work, our relationships, our reputations, our monetary resources or our charismatic personalities for a sense of self-worth. Yet all these things are fading and God wants our lives to be on the firm foundation of our relationship with him.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1). It's an amazing privilege to be called a child of God but because the world doesn't value godly beliefs, we are tempted not to value our status with God either. God freely chose to send his son to establish a relationship with the people he created. He didn't have to. The fact that he did demonstrates how important we are to him.

Keeping the Sabbath was an acknowledgment that work without God was futile. Work gives us a sense of success, significance and satisfaction. When the Israelites deliberately chose not to work on the Sabbath, it reminded them they couldn't establish a right relationship with God by the work of their hands.

These two things, although expressed differently today, are still important – my status as a child of God is the only healthy basis for my self-esteem and without God my work is useless.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Contempt

When I'm feeling guilty for something I've done or neglected to do, I find I'd rather resolve it my way than accept God's forgiveness and grace. It's said the devil will try to copy anything of God's. He will even try to copy the conviction of the Holy Spirit on my life, but instead of it being true conviction, it's contempt.

Conviction means I've done something wrong, but contempt means there is something wrong with me. It's when we say: "I hate myself" instead of saying: "I hate what I've done." Sometimes I trick myself into thinking I'm being humble when I berate myself or think that by condemning myself it will keep me from doing wrong again. But in reality contempt is the devil's counterfeit for true conviction. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Godly sorrow or conviction is intended to bring us to God to confess, repent and accept God's forgiveness. By coming to him, we find wholeness. Sometimes I find it difficult to admit my need of God. I'm tempted to condemn myself for my shortcomings instead of relying on the grace of God.

Looking at the life of David, we notice that when confronted with his sin, he never gave excuses: "Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the LORD'" (2 Samuel 12:13). By acknowledging sin, I open my heart to receive God's forgiveness.

The alternative to godly sorrow is contempt or worldly sorrow, which leads to hating ourselves, poor self-worth, and perhaps even depression. It's a dead-end road. 2 Corinthians 7:10 describes it as death.

So I find that God's way of dealing with guilt is much healthier than mine. Actually his plans, his agendas, his timetables are always healthier than mine!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Blog Tour : Clash of the Titles

Sizzlin' Reads
Vote for your Fave!

Scroll through these THREE new reads and vote below 
for which you'd pick up first to read with a cuppa.
It'll be a tough choice! Somebody's gotta do it. May as well be you!


https://www.amazon.com/Almost-Like-Being-Love-Destination-ebook/dp/B010MHA2OY

Almost Like Being in Love by Beth K. Vogt

She’s won an all-expenses-paid, luxurious wedding — all she needs now is the groom! Winning a destination wedding would be a dream come true … if Caron Hollister and her boyfriend, Alex were already engaged — and if her ex-boyfriend, Kade, wasn’t back in her life, causing her to wonder “what if?” when she thought she was ready to say “I do” to someone else.
~~~~~~ 


https://www.amazon.com/Rescue-Me-Sandy-Nadeau/dp/1611165342

Rescue Me by Sandy Nadeau

Risking her life to save him is easy. Risking her heart to give him a second chance is impossible.
~~~~~~

https://www.amazon.com/River-Rest-Susan-Page-Davis/dp/0997230835

River Rest by Susan Page Davis

Unable to depend on her father to heal the crumbling family, Judith is afraid to trust the mysterious neighbor, Ben, who lives with his own grief. When Ben is injured, she is the only one who can help him.
~~~~~~



VOTE HERE!


If you have trouble viewing the entire survey, click here to load a dedicated page to the survey.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 20:8

Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy. Leviticus 20:8

The call to holiness is repeated throughout the Old Testament and yet it is only the Lord who can make us holy. In Old Testament times sacrifices expressed a heart's desire to be right with God but even the penitent person couldn't make themselves holy this way.

The Sabbath was a sign, a reminder, a prompt to acknowledge God's work and man's inability to save himself. "You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy" (Exodus 31:13).

Unfortunately religious leaders turned Sabbath-keeping and other laws into rituals. They taught people that outward observations would make them righteous by their own efforts. It's a trap new covenant believers also fall into – trying to make ourselves acceptable to God.

Jesus makes us holy as we receive his forgiveness and enabling into our lives and he does his work so completely that he calls us his brothers and sisters. "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters" (Hebrews 2:11).

It can be difficult to acknowledge that our righteous deeds are never going to promote us to a state of holiness. Even deeds we are doing for God and in his name won't achieve righteousness if they are self-initiated and self-driven. When we attempt to create our own holiness we become evildoers. We may prophesy, drive out demons or perform miracles but Jesus will say: "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23).

Let’s trust God alone to make us holy.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Book Review : Happy Pants

Happy Pants is written from Heather Gallagher's own experience of postnatal depression. She uses the visual image of a pair colourful pants to portray her happy emotions. So when her happy pants stay in the wardrobe it indicates her feelings of sadness. It is a clever way to show her emotions and one a child can understand.

This book is a useful tool to read to a child whose mother is suffering with postnatal depression. It makes it clear that it's no one fault and that help and support are available from other family members as well as the medical profession.

The illustrations are well drawn and fit well with the context of the story.

Overall a valuable way of communicating postnatal depression to young children.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thoughts on Jeremiah

Over the years I've heard stories about people who lost their faith at Bible College. It made no sense to me. I understood there were liberal lecturers, but really, how could they make someone lose faith?

Then I went to Bible College myself. The first few years I found faith affirming. The history of the church and theology made me feel that my beliefs were on solid ground. I still had no clues as to why someone would lose their faith, until I began studying Prophetic Literature. It was the middle of Jeremiah, I realised the problem. It wasn't Jeremiah accusing God of being deceptive, or God telling Jeremiah he need to get over his self-pity. Rather it was the way the book of Jeremiah came to us.

The book of Jeremiah was first written over two and a half thousand years ago. It was collated from prophesies that Jeremiah spoke to the Israelites living in Jerusalem prior to and during the Babylonian siege which took place around 500 BC. Most of the book was originally written in Hebrew.

Two versions of the book have survived the years. One is the Greek translation which became part of an Old Testament called the Septuagint. In Luke 4:16-19 Jesus read from the Septuagint, though it is believed other translations were also available at the time. The other version we have is the Hebrew edition called the Masoretic text which is usually the translation that our Bibles today are based on. However the Septuagint version of the book is 15% shorter then the Masoretic text. So is the extra 15% inspired? The prophesies are recorded in a different order in the Septuagint to the Masoretic text, is this important?

It has also been found in many of the prophetic books that scribes have added dating clues and geographical markers, but at other times making alterations and adding information which would have been unknown to the person who wrote the original. Were these scribes inspired by God to do this?

The book itself gives some clues to its composition. 'So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them' (emphasis added) (Jeremiah 36:32).

If our faith in the Bible is shaken by these historical discoveries, then our faith in God is also on shaky ground. Liberal theologians like to point out these discrepancies but often fail to mention how amazing it is that we have so many identical copies of Old Testament books that were put together so long ago or that these additions and alterations don't alter the theological meaning of the books.

I believe the Bible we have today is the book God intended us to have. God works through the frailty of human hands and minds but he protects his message. Today we have a book, while not exactly the same as the original, is remarkably close.

Often, in our churches, we act as though the Bible has come to us by magic and we have the exact words that the prophets spoke. The problem surfaces when our young people go to Bible College and they become disillusioned because we haven't been honest in explaining the Bible's own history.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 19:5

When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf. Leviticus 19:5

Moses gave the Israelites detailed instructions about how they were to bring their sacrifices. The Israelites couldn't sacrifice anything anywhere – it had be in accordance with God's requirements. Likewise we can't just make any sacrifice and expect God to be impressed.

The temptation is that we will make sacrifices that will be to our advantage rather than discern God's purposes. Perhaps we give our time when God is asking us to make a financial sacrifice or perhaps the opposite. We may find it easier to give money rather than invest our time. Sometimes we sacrifice in order to boost our own self-esteem or to draw attention to ourselves. We may want to be seen as selfless or caring. We may contribute for what we get in return – people's gratitude, friendship or approval.

Perhaps we find ourselves in situations where it's the cultural norm to forgo certain pleasures or complete particular duties. It may require time to discern the difference between our Christian responsibility and cultural obligations. It's also important to remember that God doesn't want us to make unnecessary sacrifices.

It's wise to check our motivation. Why are we making this sacrifice? Do we sense God's prompting? Are we focussed on the needs of others or our own?

Today we aren't bound by the same criteria as the Israelites. Instead God expects us to seek him for wisdom and guidance. This gives us increased freedom but more responsibility.

We always have reason to feel good about ourselves, not because we have made a sacrifice but because we are a child of God. Our self-esteem is not based on what we do but who we are.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

What kind of chaplain am I?

I recently started working as a school chaplain and a couple of weeks ago attended a conference. Over the school holidays I've had a chance to reflect on my role.

Chaplaincy is very different to my previous library jobs. In libraries the day to day work is very obvious – you check out books, check in books and put books away. While there is other behind the scenes work to do the basics are well defined and structured. In comparison chaplaincy is nebulous and varies from school to school, depending on the needs of the schools and the skills of the chaplain.

Being an introvert in a chaplaincy role is a mixed blessings. On the one hand it makes me a thoughtful listener but on the other hand it's harder to initiate the kind of small talk that breaks down barriers. I expected to be able to use my library skills and connect with children through reading books, particularly at lunch time when I open up the library. However this hasn't happened a great deal and certainly not to the extent that I hoped. This means I have to find other ways to make connections.

Listening to other chaplain's experiences at conference was interesting. However many of the presenters were from big schools with more obvious issues. Even the stories I heard around meal times were again interesting, but not necessarily helpful in determining how I need to do chaplaincy.

So at the moment, I'm still reflecting on my own unique way of being a chaplain.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Blog Tour : Mail Order Surprise






PURCHASE

About the book:
Colorado, 1881. Lydia Walsh is on the run. The quiet rancher she marries and expected to find safety and protection with turns out to have three siblings, next to nothing to live on, and is a crack shot who may or may not be one of the states best cattle rustlers.

Beau Harding wants to keep his family together and do the right thing by them. His mail order bride comes with her own set of baggage: two more mouths to feed and empty hearts begging him to fill. The job he took for some quick money gets him thrown in jail for rustling, and then to clear his name he takes on another job--and learns that his wife may have been the one plotting his family’s downfall all along.


What COTT voters had to say:
~Waiting to get a chance to read it Lucy
~Lucy Thompson, Great title, great cover!
~Mrs. Lucy Thompson, we wish you the best. 
~Lucy Thompson is not only a wonderful author but I've been blessed to being able to get to know her through Facebook. God bless you Lucy. Hope you win.'
~Lucy Thompson, loved the book.
~Beautiful cover picture and a great book Lucy Thompson!
~YAY Lucy Thompson. Keep up the good work!
~Lucy Thompson, I can't wait to read your novel Mail Order Surprise. It is the next book I will read. All the best for your future releases.

About the author:
Lucy Thompson is a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits.

She enjoys meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When she can be separated from her laptop, she is a professional time waster on facebook.

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 18:3, 24

You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices … Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Leviticus 18:3 & 24

Seven times in this chapter it is repeated that the Israelites are not to behave like the nations who inhabited Canaan before them (v. 3 x 2, 24, 26, 27, 29, and 30). Likewise Christians are called to be holy and live differently to those around them. Yet holiness isn't some kind of super-spirituality. Rather it indicates uniqueness and separateness which comes from the way we conduct ourselves and not through isolation.

When Jesus prayed for his disciples and future disciples, his prayer was not that we segregate ourselves from the world but rather that God would protect us from evil (John 17:15). There would be little need for protection if we lived in a cocooned environment.

Unfortunately the Israelites weren't able to retain their distinctiveness. They adopted the practices of the pagan nations around them even while continuing to worship God. When there was a new king who followed God's ways exclusively, they introduced reforms but these were only adhered to outwardly (see Jeremiah 3:10 for example). Renewals rarely transformed people's hearts. Even in our day it is easier to blend in with the culture rather than cultivate a God-honouring life-style.

In Romans 12:2 Paul writes: 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind'. To be effective renewal must start in our thinking and outwork so it effects our daily life.

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Thursday, July 07, 2016

Book Review : The Warrior Lord's Sword

This book is currently being featured on the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance. Information about the author and more details about the book can be found here.

The Warrior Lord's Sword is a collection of 31 devotional thoughts about the Bible by Ray Hawkins. Like Ray's other devotional books, it is not a quick read. Each devotional is well thought through and often weighty. I was fortunate to be able to have a month so I could read one devotion per day which gave me time to digest them. It is interesting to reflect on how much the Bible has to say about itself and the importance that God expects us to place on the Bible.

My favourite devotion was on day seven regarding God's Breath. We see how powerful his breath is in giving life to Adam, to the vast multitude of dry bones in Ezekiel and in Jesus breathing on his disciples. A great reminder of God's enabling power. I also enjoyed reading Ray's thoughts about Israel and the promises of God to them. There are many references to various parts of the Bible providing depth and scope to the material.

Ray has dedicated his book to the people who guarded, copied and distributed his Word. As we take time to reflect on the significance of God's word it makes us grateful that God has preserved his word over many generations and protected it from those who sought to destroy it so we can read it today.

Thanks to Ray for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Blog Tour : The Warrior Lord's Sword

This blog tour is for the book: The Warrior Lord's Sword 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.


4 -8 July


is introducing


(April 2016)

by

Ray Hawkins


About the Book:
'The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword ...' That is one of the ways the Bible defines itself. This Devotional takes you into 30 other of its definitions. Your confidence in and appreciation of God's word will be strengthened as you understand its claims. The author's hope is that this book will enrich your love for and understanding of God's unchanging scriptures. For God has expressed Himself within them so you will know Him in a personal way.Scripture is God's breath in print with power to declare His glory. It is His sword to strike against ungodliness. He has given it to us also to guide, guard and govern our relationship of faith in Him.


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.

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Saturday, July 02, 2016

Devotional Thought : Leviticus 11:2

Say to the Israelites: 'Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat …' Leviticus 11:2

We focus on what we can't do but God focuses on what we can do.

Commentators differ on why some animals are designated 'clean' or 'unclean'. Reasons tend to fall into 6 categories: 1. Arbitrary meaning there is no reason. God is simply looking for obedience. 2. Cultic meaning that animals associated with pagan practices were prohibited. 3. Hygiene and health, some suggest the 'unclean' animals were unhealthy for human consummation and therefore prohibited. 4. Aesthetical reasons based on appearances. 5. Ethical reasons to teach people there is right and wrong. 6. Symbolic meaning the animals represented a deeper principal.

Constable in his Commentary, feels a combination of reasons is the most likely explanation. Others favour health or arbitrary reasons. However it is the symbolic meaning that makes the most sense as to why the division between 'clean' and 'unclean' were dispense with under the New Covenant. There is a threefold division of animals into clean, unclean and sacrificial, symbolically these could parallel Jews, non-Jews and priests.

I believe God's commandments are to instruct and bless us. If there were genuine health reasons for not eating some animals these regulations would have continued throughout the New Testament but they aren't. I find arbitrary reasons are inconsistent with God's character. God acts with purpose.

I favour a symbolic meaning because in the New Testament the Jews appear to regard their food laws as symbolic of the division between themselves and Gentiles (Acts 10). The abolition of these laws under the New Covenant illustrates the fact that by his death Jesus has broken down the wall of partition that separated Jews, Gentiles and priests.

We are all one in Christ.

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