Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 29:22

They ate and drank with great joy in the presence of the Lord that day. 1 Chronicles 29:22

Such joy in this chapter and David wanted it to go on forever – he prayed: “Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided” (v. 18-19)

David prayed that God would keep the people’s hearts loyal to himself, but it didn’t happen. He prayed that Solomon would have wholehearted devotion to keep God’s commands but that didn’t happen either.

God doesn’t override free will. We choose the desires and thoughts we keep in our hearts, we choose to be loyal or not, and we choose our level of devotion. God doesn’t take our choices from us.

Perhaps Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-11 is a better model. He prays for the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in order to live a life pleasing to him, to grow in the knowledge of God and to be strengthened so they may have great endurance and patience. Paul saw the Colossians’ greatest necessity as continually growing in understanding God and his ways, and to have perseverance.

Even then, the Colossians would still have to choose. Christian leaders can provide opportunities for growth and recommend spiritual disciplines to encourage growth, but ultimately it’s our decision if we engage in these practices.

Perseverance is part of the growth process, and seems to be sadly lacking in David’s time. However, the ability to keep going when things get difficult will greatly enhance our spiritual lives.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review : The Case for Grace

Lee Strobel is better known for writing apologetic books and his other titles, “The Case for …” are based on historical and scientific evidence. The Case for Grace is a series of testimonies, including his own, which show how God has transformed people’s lives. There is also an extensive discussion guide at the back of the book.

It’s natural when putting a book like this together that you would choose people whose lives have been radically impacted by God’s grace: An abandoned child who experienced much abuse becomes a conduit for grace, an addict who becomes a pastor of a large church, an agnostic scientist becomes a professor at an evangelical university, a terrorist and executioner starts a church, a pastor commits adultery but saves his marriage and others, a pastor’s son highly involved in the nightclub culture becomes an evangelist.

These are huge turn arounds and only possible because of God. Through the book Strobel is making the point that God’s grace can reach anyone, no matter what they have done or how far from God they seem to be. Together they provide compelling evidence for the legitimacy of Christian faith.

Lee Strobel is an excellent writer, so this is an easy to read book. It is also a brave book as he shares his own struggles with his father.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 21:8

Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” 1 Chronicles 21:8

David is the only person described as being a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). What was it about David that was so special? He was hardly sinless, having committed both adultery and murder. In this incident he ordered the counting of the fighting men, which indicates his reliance on his own resources, rather than on God. So I wondering, is it because he was good at repenting?

In the episode with Bathsheba, David simply said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). There was no rationalization or justification.

In this episode again he fully acknowledges his sin—and his alone. As well as saying, “I have sinned greatly” and “I have done a very foolish thing”. He also says to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people” (1 Chronicles 21:17).

David also had great faith in God’s mercy saying, “Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great” (v. 13). David was right. The Lord called a premature halt to the plague at Araunah’s threshing floor (v. 15).

God’s promise for future restoration is, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding” (Jeremiah 3:15).

Let’s be the kind of shepherd who is good at repenting and have great faith in God’s mercy.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Quotes from Seth Haines

These three quotes are from Coming Clean by Seth Haines. My book review is here. I found these quotes insightful and come at the point in the book where he begins to come to terms with his drinking problem.
And here is my precarious position: instead of facing pain with faith in the Christ who promises rest, I have learned to avoid it all by way of substitution. I’ve traded the abiding rest of Christ…for the temporary rest of liquor. Pg. 64

The therapist has told me to turn in to the pain, to see that it is a normal part of the human experience. “Face the grief you have over Titus’s sickness and allow yourself to heal.” It seems ridiculous that fear and grief could be so crippling, seeing that my son is alive, drinking juice and laughing at Elmo. pg. 65

The bottle is not the thing. The addiction is not the thing. The pain is the thing. Pg. 71

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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Book Review : Coming Clean

Coming Clean is a worthwhile, but not an easy read. It is the journal of Seth Haines’ first ninety days of sobriety from alcohol.

The first part was especially difficult. In the endorsements Preston Yancey writes, “Haines commands language and style so deftly the work reads like the highest literary fiction.” He writes this as a compliment but, for me, this style is not my preference. I found the writing too descriptive and not practical enough. However, as the book progressed I found it easier, perhaps his thinking became clearer as the effects of alcohol wore off.

I found it interesting that Haines was able to pinpoint the exact moment he chose to use alcohol to cope with the pain of his son’s continuing illness. As a Christian, the question then becomes why did he choose alcohol over God? Haines goes on a journey exploring the source of his pain and his reliance on other ways of coping, which is more deep-seated than he was consciously aware of.

Haines analyses his journey to sobriety very intensely and the insights he gained are valuable and beneficial. It’s complicated to particularise a healing journey. It’s often slow and difficult to explain how God works, meanwhile life happens. Haines is holding down a job as a lawyer and his son is attending medical appointments. Still, by writing this book as diary entries we gain a good understanding of his journey to sobriety. By the end of the book, he has a much closer relationship with God and is more in touch with his emotions.

Haines’ challenges his readers with their own addictions and coping mechanisms for dealing with living in a broken world. I thought this was slightly overdone, as it comes across as a way of excusing himself. However, Shauna Niequist deals with this very well in the foreword.

Although this book is heavy going at times, it is so insightful that it is worth the effort.

My next post will be three quotes from this book.

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Saturday, May 06, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 16:37-38

David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the Lord to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements. He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them. 1 Chronicles 16:37-38


We first hear about Obed-Edom when David attempts to move the ark with a cart, and Uzzah dies. We read that David, “did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had” (1 Chronicles 13:13-14).

Three months later, when the ark is successfully moved to Jerusalem, we find Obed-Edom has moved too. Obed-Edom’s desire was to be wherever the ark was, because for him this meant being in the presence of God. He had experienced the blessing of God and was determine to pursue it.

Obed-Edom was a Gittie—that is, he’s from Gath—a Philistine, yet he is also included in the lists of Levites (1 Chronicles 15:24). He was born in the wrong country, to the wrong family but in God’s economy he was in the right place, at the right time. Obed-Edom would not let go of the presence of God and raised his children to serve God. He gave his life to guarding the ark (presence) of God (1 Chronicles 26:1-19) and the blessings on his life continued through many generations (26:4-8).

Obed-Edom had a great desire to be in God’s Presence, honouring and serving him. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if we were born in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, God can turn our circumstances around if we are determine to pursue him.

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Thursday, May 04, 2017

Book Review : Under Their Skin

A fast paced and cleverly written story begins when Nick and Eryn’s Mom announces she is remarrying. Nick and Eryn are twins with an apparently normal home life. While their parents are divorced, it is an amicable split. Their Mom tells the twins in order to avoid difficult step-sibling relationships, they will never meet their step brother and sister. Of course, being curious 12 year-olds, they conspire to meet them.

Under Their Skin is in the science fiction genre and built on the intriguing premise is that centuries earlier the human race had faced impending doom. Two professors had created a plan for human life to repopulate the world, when it was safe to do so. However, the mystery of what caused the human race to become extinct is not revealed until the final pages.

The author, Margaret Haddix has done a great job in creating circumstances that appear normal but after several plot twists, which are surprising and interesting, we discover that the whole future of the human race is at stake.

A reading guide with discussion questions, plus a sneak peek of book two in the series, are at the back of the book.

Overall, an intriguing read.

Thanks to Christian School Supplies for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Blog Tour : Looking Glass Lies

This blog tour is for the novel: Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance.


1 – 5 May 2017


is introducing


Waterfall Press, 2 May 2017

by

Varina Denman


About the Book:
A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.


About the Author:
Varina Denman enjoys writing fiction about women and the unique struggles they face. Her novels include the Mended Hearts trilogy: Jaded, Justified, and Jilted, as well as her latest release, Looking Glass Lies. She seems to have a knack for describing small town life, and her debut novel, Jaded, won the ACFW Genesis Contest, the BRMCWC Selah Award, and the INSPYs Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Literature.

Varina attended three universities over a span of five years, majoring in four subjects and earning zero degrees. However, she can now boast sixteen years as a home educator, volunteering in her local cooperative where she has taught numerous subjects including creative writing and literature. Varina lives in North Texas where she volunteers in local marriage and family ministry. She is represented by Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management.

More information: https://varinadenman.co

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 15:27

Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the musicians, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. 1 Chronicles 15:27

David was dressed as the high priest. This was quite unusual as the role of king was separate from the role of priests. In fact, in 1 Samuel 13:9-13 we see Saul not waiting for Samuel the priest to offer the burnt offerings, but rather doing it himself. Saul was severely rebuked for his actions. God’s people are not to over step their authority.

Yet here David is acting in the role of high priest, it seems that David had divine approval to do this. We read that David told the Levites, regarding the first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem, “We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way” (v. 13). So presumably this being the second attempt, David did inquire of the Lord. God gave him the privilege of priest and king and enable him to bring the ark of the covenant back to the city.

It brings to mind the account of Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18 where Melchizedek is referred to as a king and priest. “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram . . . Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20). Salem was the original name of Jerusalem.

Only Melchizedek, David and Jesus, all kings of Jerusalem, shared the titles and privileges of king and priest at the same time.

As his children God gives us many privileges, but let’s not take them for granted.

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making the most of every opportunity

Mount Hermon Conference Center
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” Ephesians 5:15-16

I've been busy this week, blogging on other sites. Read the rest of this post at Australasian Christian Writers.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Was it worth it?

Mount Hermon Conference Centre
I’ve just returned from attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in California and I have been asked (in a nice way) if it was worth the time and money.

Read the rest of this post at Christian Writers Downunder.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Devotional Thought : James 5:11

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11.

James was writing this passage of his book to encourage patience in the face of suffering. Sometimes we discount suffering in our context because we are not subject to the physical abuse that Christians experience in other parts of the world. Nevertheless we live in a fallen world and we encounter trial and problems that we would not, if we weren't Christians. So the call to be patient is also valid for us.

Often we are too quick to rush into a situation and try to immediately fix things, or we implore the Lord for a speedy result, without stopping to think that maybe God is doing a work that is going to take time. This was the case with Job. We are not told how long Job suffered, but 40 chapters seems like a long time! Yet there was a lot going on in the heavenly realm that Job was unaware of. The story of Job underlines the fact that we may need to wait in order to see the result that the Lord wants to bring about, which may be quite different to the outcomes we want.

The above verse ends with a great encouragement, the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. He isn't going to prolong our difficulties without reason, but only if it works to our best interests. His heart is for us to become more like Christ, which sometimes means we have to endure circumstances that are not to our liking.

Regardless of our difficulties, whether they are major dramas or minor inconveniences, we are blessed when we persevere.

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

First Email Newsletter

This week I am sending out my first email newsletter. I plan to send an email once a month with updates on my books as well as other things I like to write about.

I would love you to subscribe and there is a sign up box in the sidebar. As a thank you gift for subscribing you will receive a link to my 10 Devotional Thoughts on Trusting God ebook.

I have recently returned from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. The photo is of me at Mount Hermon. It has taken me a little longer to get over the jet lag than I expected, but I will start posting about my trip soon.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

He is with us

One of the continuing themes of the Bible that God wants to impress upon us is the knowledge that he is with us.

We see this in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you". The one we remember at Christmas, "They will call him Immanuel (meaning God with us)" and Ezekiel’s prophecy, "And the name of the city from that time will be: The Lord is there" (Ezekiel 48:35). This prophecy was given at a time of great upheaval, and it is interesting that God doesn’t always rescue us from life’s dramas but rather he promises his Presence in the midst of them. God wants us know that he is always there for us.

Yet we also need to call upon him like the disciples in Mark 6:48. Jesus "saw the disciples straining at the oars . . . he went out to them . . . he was about to pass by them." Jesus would have passed by, but when the disciples cried out to him, he immediately (v. 50) spoke to them and calmed the wind.

Let's thank God for being with us, but also call upon his Presence in a fresh and deeper way.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 13:2-4

He [David] then said to the whole assembly of Israel, "If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul." The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. 1 Chronicles 13:2-4

God has always wanted to lead his people by inner conviction. We see this in the phrases, "seems good to you" and "seemed right to all the people." The plan to bring the ark back to Jerusalem was a good one. (Even though, things went badly when they took a short cut, and put the ark on a cart.)

In the New Testament we also find God leading his people by inner conviction, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . ." (Acts 15:28). This is the opposite of what happens in Judges where, "everyone did as they saw fit" (Judges 21:25).

Relying on inner conviction, isn’t doing as we think best. Rather it comes from an attitude that seeks to please God and commit to his ways. God desires to lead and guide, but for us to follow we must be willing to put aside our agenda and timetable.

Furthermore, relying on inner conviction, requires the development of spiritual disciplines, like prayer and Bible reading so we are learning to be sensitive to God's Spirit.

Ultimately God wants to lead his people through relationship, not by predetermined rules.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Home today

I am returning from my trip to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference today. I scheduled a number of posts while I was away and this one is the last of them. I imagine I am currently sleeping off jet lag. Hope to write about the trip soon.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Delight in the Lord

Sometimes we expect God to bless us exactly as we ask and don’t consider that God may have a different blessing in mind.

We love Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Even trying to “help” God so he can give us the desires of our heart. But we skip over the first half of the verse a little too quickly. Delighting in the Lord requires that we get so caught up in what God wants that we forget what we want, or at least it becomes less important.

In the gospels Jesus tells us that in order to be his disciples we need to deny ourselves and put to death our personal preferences in order to follow him (Matthew 16:24). Not an easy thing to do when ingrained in us is an independent streak that likes to have its own way. Also not an easy thing to do when we are fixated on God to giving us the desires of our heart.

Frequently we find our desires go through a refining process and what we thought we wanted is changed and purified into a God given desire. Sometimes God plants a desire in our heart, maybe when we were very young, so that he can grant us our desire at just the right time.

Ultimately though when God gives us the desires of our heart it may come as a surprise because we haven’t planned for it, or stage-managed it. It comes as a gift from the Father heart of God who knows what is best for us.

God will give us what we love, but first he will purify our desires.

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Saturday, April 08, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse. 1 Chronicles 10:13-14

Saul had many failings. Early in his reign, he became impatient when waiting for Samuel, and presented the offering himself (1 Samuel 13:8). Later he became jealous of David and tried to kill him on several occasions. In between, he was disobedient to the Lord’s instructions to completely destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:1-15). Yet in this summary, the thing that is highlighted is that Saul would not inquire of the Lord, and even consulted a medium.

In the account of Saul consulting a medium in 1 Samuel 28, it is recorded that Saul did inquire of the Lord (verse 6). But Saul had been ignoring God for so long, without any sign of repentance, that he could no longer receive messages from God.

Saul had always been reluctant to wait for God, and receive from him. It requires a certain amount of humility to ask and receive. When we pray, we acknowledge our own inadequacies, and our own lack of resources to deal with the problem. It wounds our sense of self-sufficiency and competence. Praying may damage our self-esteem, if it is built on our accomplishments.

Alternatively, a medium is just another human being with no ability to help, but only give advice. Humility is not required, and there are no consequence from the medium if the advice is not followed. Saul was able to keep his sense of being capable and in charge.

Sadly Saul died, not keeping the word of the Lord and being unfaithful.

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Thursday, April 06, 2017

Book Review : Activate

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.

I was a bit apprehensive about reading Activate because I haven’t read the first two books in the series. However, Adele does a great job of providing sufficient backstory and keeping the story moving at the same time.

Blaine is in witness protection, but frustrated with his lack of freedom, he takes unnecessary risks and is caught by those who would do away with him. Despite failing health, he is determined to see justice done and overcomes many obstacles in the process.

The medication dramas that Blaine faces are complicated and the science behind it all is incredible, yet Adele makes it sound believable and it creates an action-packed, fast-moving story. Adele generates significant amounts of tension and conflict, which is well communicated. I also enjoyed some of the minor characters and thought they were well portrayed.

My personal preference would have been to have a little more Christian input in the story. Blaine struggles with faith throughout the story, without resolution and without much contribution from others. Nevertheless the story finishes with a sense of hope.

I enjoyed the story, although it is a bit complex, especially not having read the previous books.

An action packed read.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Blog Tour : Activate

This blog tour is for the young adult novel: Activate by Adele Jones. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review is here.


3 – 7 Apri, 2017


is introducing


(By Rhiza Press, 1 November 2016)

by

Adele Jones


About the Book:
Josh Hammond’s not who he says he is. To stay alive, he must guard his identity, existing isolated from his former life and those he loves. The one enemy he can’t outrun is his failing health, and time is short. Desperate for a solution, Josh leaves the protection of his safe house unapproved. Instead of a cure, he’s left powerless against a cunning adversary. Determined to reclaim his life, he grasps an opportunity for escape, but things go drastically wrong. Can he find a way to expose the lies of a criminal mastermind, or will he be silenced? Forever.


About the Author:
Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and her broad ranging imagination.

A strong believer in embracing life's journey, Adele delights in sharing that adventure with others, be that through the pages of a story or engaging in a social or professional context. Through her broad personal and professional interests, she has welcomed diverse engagement opportunities, including science based student experience sessions, conference presentations, literary readings and musical exploits.

With a long standing interest in historical fiction, Adele based her Master's dissertation on this topic and is currently anticipating release of her first novel in this genre, A Devil's Ransom (www.roseandcrownbooks.com). She has also had a variety of poems, short stories, inspirational meditations, devotions and magazine articles published. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 Caleb Prize for unpublished manuscript, and is due to for release in September 2014. Replicate is the second book in this series and was released in October 2015.

More information:
Adele Jones: www.adelejonesauthor.com

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Saturday, April 01, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 6:31-32

These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them. 1 Chronicles 6:31-32

Music has always been an important part of worship. David was a musician and first came to the palace in this capacity, because he played well (1 Samuel 16:14-23).

David put together a group of men in charge of music after the ark came to rest there. These men plus their sons served there. However, they were more than musicians—they were part of the priestly tribe—Levi (v. 48). Chosen not just for their musical ability, but according to God's call on their life.

Today, in our church gatherings, there is a big difference between being a capable musician, and being someone who is able to lead others into worship. A competent musician will play well, but that doesn’t automatically qualify them to lead worship. They may not have the ability to encourage people to engage with God through their music. In fact, some play so well it actually distracts people from worshipping. Others are so concerned about playing the music perfectly, they forget their role is to create an atmosphere of worship.

In order for a skilful musician to become an effective worship leader, they must grow in their own relationship with God so they understand the difference between good music and good worship. A worship leader ought to draw people into the presence of God.

If you are going to lead people in worship, as well as being a good musician, there has to be a calling.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference

Tomorrow I leave for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, which is both exciting and terrifying! About 10 years ago, I attended the Glorieta Christian Writer's Conference in New Mexico. Just the number of people attending was mind-blowing and I expect Mount Hermon to be the same.

I'm actually taking the same manuscript, though I have since completed a sequel, however, it is a very different book. I have learnt so much in the last 10 years and I have done much re-writing. It has also been professionally edited.

I don't know quite what to expect regarding my book but I believe this is a God-given opportunity, and would appreciate your prayers.

I plan to start an email newsletter when I returned and have added a sign up box on the left. My first newsletter will be about my time at the Writers Conference.

Whilst I'm away I have scheduled some posts, as I'm not sure how much time and internet access I will have.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Blog Tour : Clash of the Titles


Clash of the Titles presents four new reads! 
Peruse the images, read the blurbs, 
then vote on your favourite in the survey. 
Enjoy, dear readers!

~~~~~



He's a nature photographer returning to make amends, and she's a camera-shy naturalist seeking privacy. Their love for a boy brings them together, but the camera could drive them apart.
~ ~ ~


Lifestyle magazine editor Heather McAlister was in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnessing a crime that shakes the roots of the town’s power brokers and sends her life into a tailspin. Previously burned by love, Detective Kyle Taylor has spent his entire adult life protecting his hometown, but now he’s protecting a woman he’ll risk everything to save.
~ ~ ~


She’s ready to fly free of a life-long cocoon; he’s looking for anything but Raine. Can Paradise Pines find a miracle for two unwilling hearts?

~ ~ ~


When a homeless man rescues Glorilyn Neilson from violent assault, he's not the man he seems. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?
VOTE BELOW!

If you have trouble viewing the entire survey Click Here to load a dedicated page to the survey. 



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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (he was the firstborn, but when he defiled his father's marriage bed, his rights as firstborn were given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel; so he could not be listed in the genealogical record in accordance with his birthright, and though Judah was the strongest of his brothers and a ruler came from him, the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph). 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

In Biblical times, the firstborn son received double the inheritance of other sons. Reuben, forfeited his entitlement when he slept with father's concubine, Bilhah (Genesis 35:22). One sinful action had long-term repercussions. Reuben's double blessing passes to Joseph. His sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, become tribes in Israel, alongside Jacob's other sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin (Genesis 48:5-6).

Reuben also lost the position of leadership in the family, and this passes to Judah. When Judah and his brothers go to Egypt for food, it is Judah who takes the lead (Genesis 43-44). Later Jacob's prophesy of continuing leadership for Judah, predicts the coming of Jesus (Genesis 49:10).

We don't receive God's favour or leadership by natural order. It is easy to appreciate why God chose Joseph, who was faithful in challenging circumstances. The choice of Judah is more difficult to understand. We see him behaving badly in Genesis 38, choosing a wife from the Canaanites, not honouring his obligation to his daughter-in-law, and visiting a prostitute. However, in Genesis 38:26, he acknowledges his daughter-in-law's righteousness, and the lack of his own. There was an honesty of heart. God is looking for those who are faithful and honest of heart.

As Samuel learnt, "People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Quotes on Writing

Carl Rogers wrote,
"That which is most personal is most general."
This quote is very applicable to writers and agrees with the much quoted Ernest Hemingway's quote:
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Writing to engage others, is challenging because it requires high levels of self-awareness and honesty.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hearing God's Voice

"...and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name... and his sheep follow him because they know his voice" John 10:3-4.

Recently I have been pondering the statement, "he who has ears to hear, let him hear" which Jesus says many times. For me this speaks about tuning in to what God is saying. Often times I find myself reading the Bible, yet my mind is thinking about something else. Even in church I can be singing and yet my mind is far away. So I have been challenged to really tune in to what God is saying to me.

I think tuning in to God involves having an expectation that God wants to say something to us. As parents we always have something to say to our children and I believe the same is true of God. We also need to give God the opportunity to speak to us through reading the Bible, praying and through taking the time to listen.

God speaks in many ways. We might be reading the Bible, when it's as if the words leap up off the page, or we may get an idea, an impression, or a desire that comes to us after prayer. We then need to learn whether it's of God or of ourselves and this takes practice. It takes time to "know his voice".

Sometimes we don't listen to God because we are afraid of what he might say. But we need have no fear of Someone who loves us perfectly.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Devotional Thought : 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10

Such a brief account of Jabez's life and so much we don't know. In what way was Jabez more honourable? What was the particular pain he wanted to be free from?

However, there is also much we do know. He cried out to God, which tells he was humble and poor in spirit, since he acknowledged his need of God. He asked God for what he had already promised his people. God had allotted each of the Israelite tribes an area, but it was up to each tribe to actually spread out and possess the land. By asking God to bless him and enlarge his territory, Jabez was asking to be enabled to do what God had planned. He also stated his dependency on God by saying, "Let your hand be with me," and asked for his protection.

Similarly we can respond to God in the same way. We can acknowledge our need of God and have a humble attitude. We know God's promise to his New Covenant believers is to impact the world, by being salt and light to our communities (Matthew 5:13-16). We can ask God to enable us to do this. We can affirm our dependency on God and ask for protection.

God was able to bless Jabez because he had a good attitude and believed God's promises. Likewise, this can be true of us, if we have the same attitude.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Quote from Warren Wiersbe

Quote from Be Encouraged by Warren Wiersbe.

Wiersbe shares this thought from 2 Corinthians 11:19-21:
“Their gospel of legalism was very popular, since human nature enjoys achieving religious goals instead of simply trusting Christ – allowing the Holy Spirit to work. It is much easier to measure religion than true righteousness.”

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

No deserving people

In Matthew 20 Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard who were all paid the same, though some worked much longer than others. He concludes with these questions "Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?" (v.15).

Perhaps similar questions today would be, if a mass murderer repented on his deathbed would you be upset if God forgave him? Would you be upset to learn that Hitler, Pol Potts, or Saddam Hassan repented?

There are those who feel called to minister to those awaiting execution for severe crimes in the hope of leading them to Christ before they die. Sometimes they are criticised by Christians who say they should spend their time with more 'deserving' people. But the fact is none of us are 'deserving' people and if God is so generous as to show mercy to us how can we complain when he shows mercy to others. When we mistakenly underestimate the seriousness of our sin we don’t realise the greatness of God’s forgiveness. But when we view sin the way God does, we are overwhelmed by the greatness of his mercy.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 36:10-11

So Zelophehad’s daughters did as the LORD commanded Moses. Zelophehad’s daughters—Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milkah and Noah—married their cousins on their father’s side. Numbers 36:10-11

This is an encouraging note to conclude the book of Numbers. This new generation were prepared to do as the Lord commanded, even when it required a sacrifice on their part.

As Israelites, God had commanded them not to marry anyone from the seven Canaanites nations who occupied the land prior to their arrival (Exodus 34:15 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4). This further prohibition was not to marry someone from another Israelite tribe. This wasn't binding on everyone, but on daughters with an inheritance. It limited their choice to 1/12 of Israel. However, this may not have been as restrictive as it appears. Generally speaking, people didn't travel very far in that day, so young women may not have been in the habit of meeting young men from other tribes.

Nevertheless, these girls made a decision, that even if the opportunity presented itself, they would not marry outside their tribe, and thus preserved the land for their own tribe.

These days we don't have these kind of issues, yet the passage teaches us to be wise and thoughtful about who we form an alliance with. Relationships can be difficult between people who value from different things and believe different things. We may feel we aren't influenced by the belief systems of others, yet if the arrangement becomes a marriage and children are involved, then our decision will have ongoing repercussions.

There are other situations where we would be wise to voluntarily restrict our choices, such as the movies we watch, the books we read, and the internet sites we visit.

May it be said of us, that we honoured the Lord in the choices we made.

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Thursday, March 09, 2017

Book Review : Chocolate Soldier

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.

Chocolate Soldier : The Story of a Conchie by Hazel Barker gives a different perspective on World War II. It is the account of Clarence Dover who works with the Friend’s Ambulance Unit. The book is based on the diaries he kept.

Clarence joined the Ambulance Unit as a result of being a conscientious objector. However, I sensed that was God’s plan for him anyway. I struggled with Clarence’s reasons for being a conscientious objector, which were stated as religious. Yet there were others who believed like Clarence, but felt God would wanted them to defend the oppressed and stand against evil dictatorships. So I felt there was more to his reasons, but perhaps this was sub-conscious, and difficult for Clarence to articulate.

Working with the Ambulance, stretched Clarence in many ways, but he was able to make a valuable contribution saving lives in difficult circumstances. He certainly wasn’t spare the horrors of war as he worked in London during the Blitz, and also in India where the climate and culture added to the difficulties. He was working in China when the war ended, volunteering to go there when he became aware of the great need.

As a conscientious objector, Clarence was not paid like regular soldiers, but only remunerated for expenses, hence the term ‘chocolate soldiers’. This left him in a difficult situation at the end of the war as he wanted to get married, but had no money and little chance of gaining employment on returning to England. The sacrifices he made and the misunderstandings he endured, time and time again, were inspiring.

In order to maintain authenticity, Hazel has relied heavily on material Clarence had composed before his death. Sometimes this caused problems with the writing flow, but the story was interesting and engaging so it was easy to keep reading.

A good read.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free book for review.

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Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Blog Tour : Chocolate Soldier

This blog tour is for the non-fiction book: Chocolate Soldier by Hazel Barker. This book is part of a blog tour organized by Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance

My book review is here.


6 – 10 March


is introducing


(By the Rhiza Press, 1 October 2016)

by

Hazel Barker



About the Book:
London. 1940.

When World War II breaks out and men over eighteen are conscripted, Clarence Dover, a conscientious objector, refuses to go rather than compromise his principles. Instead he joins the Friend's Ambulance Unit. From the London Blitz to the far reaches of Asia the war tests Clarence in the crucible of suffering. In the end, will he be able to hold his head up as proudly as the rest and say, to save lives I risked my own?

One man will stand as God's soldier, not the war's soldier.

About the Author:
Hazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Hazel’s debut book Chocolate Soldier, and Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind, will be released in 2016. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma.

For more information, visit her blog on:

http://hazelmbarker.wordpress.com

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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 34:12

This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side. Numbers 34:12

The boundaries that God described, enclosed an area that was considerably smaller than what he promised Abraham. "On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, 'To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates'" (Genesis 15:18).

The area of land delineated in this chapter is like the 'first fruits' of what God was planning to give the Israelites, if they had been obedient. But even at the height of Israel's political power, in David's and Solomon's time, the Israelites never possessed all that God promised.

The land was God's gift to Israel, but the people had to occupy it. "Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess" (Numbers 33:53). God expected his people to be obedient, to believe his promises, and to enlarge their boundaries until they attained to the whole measure of the fullness of God's intention.

And we are to do the same—God gives us gifts, yet we have to be obedient, believe his promises, and enlarge our vision of what God can achieve. So that ". . . we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

God has so much more for us. He equips us with his giftings, in order that we will accomplish great things in his kingdom, more than we can even imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yet this is a huge challenge, because it requires us to take steps of faith, trust his enabling, believe God's promises, and thus fulfil all that God intends.

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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Quote by Hugh Mackay

Thoughts from Generations by Hugh Mackay.
“In other words, our insecurities and uncertainties stimulate our desire for security and certainty. We are almost instinctively attracted to the confident voice, the strong leader, the person who seems to know what ought to be done. Moral vacuums yearn to be filled.

The danger at such times, is that we might settle for an easy certainty, when uncertainty might be more appropriate, we might take refuge in the security of a simple view of the word, when the world might actually be more complex than we would wish.

The challenge is to learn how to live with uncertainty.”
As Christians our security is in God, so we can live with uncertainty.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The work of believing

"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed" (Acts 17:11-12).

"You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40).

What made the difference between the Bereans and the Pharisees? Both studied the Scriptures but with completely opposite outcomes. The Bereans were prepared to re-evaluated their beliefs in relation to it, whereas the Pharisees weren’t.

It is not enough to study the Scriptures, we need to believe. Jesus said in John 6:29 "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." Many Bereans did the work of God, they believed in the one God sent. They came to Jesus and received life. Sadly the Pharisees refused to do this, though they had every opportunity to do so.

Let's do the work of believing and be blessed, because though we have not seen, we believe (John 22:29).

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Devotional Thought : Numbers 29:7

On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves and do no work. Numbers 29:7

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Mark 8:34).

Denying ourselves is both an Old and New Covenant instruction. This verse in Numbers adds, "do no work". It's surprising how much we struggle with a God who tells us to stop work, even for a day. You would think that God telling his people to rest would be cause for delight, but we find the Israelites often disobeyed this commandment.

There are many reasons for this. Through work, we gain a sense of pleasure and feelings of success, and not working denies us this enjoyment. Often our self-esteem is connected with our achievements. We feel good about ourselves when we consider our accomplishments, but no matter how much we achieve it will never feel like it's enough. We have to keep achieving to maintain our self-esteem.

Stopping work is a way of denying ourselves. It reminds us that the world will continue quite happily without our contribution. It makes us realize we aren't self-sufficient as we'd like to think, and it causes us consider other worthwhile things we could do with our time.

Many world religions are wholly focussed on fasting, denying of pleasures, and the serious pursuit of an ascetic lifestyle. Whereas Christianity, although it includes denying yourself, also includes much feasting and celebration. Our celebrations around Christmas and Easter are often about eating special treats—turkey, pudding, chocolate, hot cross buns.

Denying ourselves is an attitude that we develop as we realize our need for self-esteem is met in God. Therefore we don't need to be focussed on ourselves, and we can take time to celebrate.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Quotes from John Powell

Some quotes from Happiness is an inside job by John Powell. John assumes that happiness is a natural condition, and advocates the following practices:

Practice 1 We must accept ourselves as we are
Practice 2 We must accept full responsibility for our lives
Practice 3 We must try to fulfill our needs for relaxation, exercise, and nourishment
Practice 4 We must make our lives an act of love
Practice 5 We must stretch by stepping out of our comfort zones
Practice 6 We must learn to be "goodfinders"
Practice 7 We must seek growth, not perfection
Practice 8 We must learn to communicate effectively
Practice 9 We must learn to enjoy the good things of life
Practice 10 We must make prayer a part of our daily lives

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

God Has All Time In The World

God has all the time in the world. He is never rushed, fluttered or in a hurry. He is patience and long suffering. So much so some believe he will never act. In the Old Testament we find the Jews devastated when they were exiled to Babylon (Psalm 137). Despite centuries of warnings from the prophets the people thought that because God was slow in acting that he would not act at all. They did not realize God's patience was intended to lead them to repentance Romans 2:4).

God's patience is also seen in other places. Jezebel in the Old Testament was a particularly evil woman. She liked to kill God's prophets (1 Kings 18:4). In the letter to the church at Thyatira contained in Revelation 2, we are told there was someone leading the church astray who is referred to as Jezebel. This probably wasn't their real name but rather a description of their behaviour. John records Jesus' words, '“I have given her [Jezebel] time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling”' (Revelation 2:21). Even someone as evil as Jezebel is given time to repent. Nevertheless if she doesn't repent consequences will follow.

From a human perspective we often struggle with the timing of how to respond to a 'Jezebel' type character. Sometimes we give them no time to repent or we give them too much time and never call them to account.

However the main point here is how amazingly patient and gracious God is in waiting for people to see the error of their ways and repent. We see it over and over again. God said he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if he could find only ten righteous people (Genesis 18:32). God sent Jonah to Ninevah, a brutal and violent people, saying ". . . should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people" (Jonah 4:11). Do we really appreciate the length of God's patience? Or do we take it for granted and expect God to wait indefinitely? God always gives us enough time to change our minds and repent but there comes a time when God says, "enough". "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever" (Genesis 6:3).

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