Saturday, 14 April 2018

A quick jaunt in the woods

Don't you love going to the woods (or the bush as we call it in Australia) - I love the woods/bush - the smell, the silence, the things to do - the getting away from it all.

Tramping, trekking, rambling and hiking are what you do in other parts of the world but here in Oz we call it bush walking and it is extremely even supremely popular in Australia where we have vast tracts of untouched scrub and bush which gives us ample opportunity to indulge in what many Aussies call their favourite pastime.

Let's see? what are some of the things we can do in the bush?  I checked out the website for the national trust and I gleaned some fabulous clues for my Grandblessings next time we head off bush walking.

TREE CLIMBING:

Lots of fun in tree climbing - I remember it well - Ahh the memories!

Tree climbing is mentioned in the Bible - Zacchaeus is the renowned tree climber chronicled so well for us in Luke 19:1-10.

Zacchaeus, the Tax collector - hated by everyone - a Jew - one of the people yet turned against his own, to work for the Roman elite - swindling his fellows. He was pretty small - He was despised and looked upon as THE worst of sinners by most people but became completely changed after spending time with Jesus.

Zacchaeus the tree climbing tax collector, sees the crowd - wants to be part of it - realises he has no hope - no one was going to let him see what was going on (remember he was hated by the crowd), so he hitches up his robes and runs ahead and climbs a sycamore tree. Pretty funny really. This little guy climbing a tree.

A sycamore tree is pretty leafy so I suppose he thought no one would see him tucked up there in the branches but as we know the story so well, Jesus knew him before he even thought of climbing that tree. Jesus got him down even went to his house (you can imagine what the crowd thought) and changed Zacchaeus life forever.

His life was changed from one who people hates to a person who is willing to help others.

Zacchaes trusted Jesus so dramatically that he was changed in such a dramatic way.

I personally can vouch for how Jesus can change lives - he changed mine in a most remarkable way. I was so lost in sin, so self-centred and so full of myself it astounds me that my sweet wife has managed to stay married to me for so long. Even she can see such a huge difference in my life to the guy she married all those years ago and all she can do is to praise God for it.

Like Zacchaeus of long ago neither of us didn't have to attend some amazing course to make us aware of where we were failing as a person - he and I probably wouldn't have gone anyway! - But what we both did do was to meet Jesus - Him up a tree and me by reading a book (Driven by Eternity by John Bevere) the ONE amazing experience delivered completely in differing ways changed both of our lives for good.

We both trusted Christ and were both bowled over by His forgiveness, mercy, grace and love. Both of us repented of our sins and let Jesus change us from the inside out.

How about you? Are you ready to be changed? You can't change by yourself - Believe me I tried for donkey's years - only one person can change you and that person is Jesus.

Another amazing thing to do as kids in the bush is....

CUBBY BUILDING:

It's a great past time in the bush - When Ben, my Grandson came to visit -we used to love to build cubby houses (as we call them in Australia) in the bush not far from our home. You guys call then DENS but we still love our CUBBIES.

We'd choose a spot - maybe even in a tree, use what ever was around - leaves, branches, twigs - you name it we used it and we would build THE most amazing creations.

God wants to build amazing creations out of the mess we made in our own lives - He looks at our lives and, where all we can see so often is just rubble, twigs, branches and dried up left overs, he sees what could be there - he sees His creation and what/who Jesus died for.

The story is told of a guy who fell into a muddy ditch. The poor guy tried as hard as he could to dig himself out but the more he tried the deeper he got.

Along came a friend of his and said "Mate, how did you get in there? I would help you, I promise, but I've got a lot to do today my diary is choc-a-bloc - if you are still there when I get back I promise I will haul you out - good luck bro"

Next along came the Pastor from the church down the road, saw the man, and said "Brother my poor brother how did you come to be in there?" The poor guy explained and asked for help - "Of course I'll help" said the Pastor - "I'll go to the church and pray for you straight away - God bless you my friend".

Then the guy met Jesus, without so much as a word, Jesus threw His strong arms around him and lifted him out of the ditch, washed Him off, bandaged up his cuts and abrasions, re-clothed him and virtually made him a new creation.

The guy couldn't help himself, His mate couldn't help him, even the pastor couldn't help - only one person can help you out of the messy cubby that you have built for yourself and that person is Jesus.

You can try all you like - you can go to whom ever you choose - you can pay extraordinary amounts of money and time visiting all sorts of gurus and healers but when it all boils down, Jesus has the answer.

Jesus can not only clean you but also your cubby - He can make you into a real warrior for Him. He can do what seems like the impossible and make you a completely different person.

There is heaps to do in the Aussie bush - I remember again when young Ben and I used to go bush bashing as we called it back then we just loved....

FLOATING BOATS IN THE BUSH CREEKS

We had so much fun building boats sometimes out of all sorts of stuff we found and floating them down the creek that runs not far from our home and right in the middle of a typical Aussie bush, especially straight after a heavy downpour - so much fun and we got so so filthy - all fun when you are a grandfather of a ten your old.

God has a mighty plan for you and me - Ben and I didn't have a plan for our boats at all we just had huge fun watching them floundering on the rocks and quickly sinking.

God's plan for us may seem strange at times and completely coming from left field but be sure that God always knows what he is doing, not like Ben's boats who were rudderless, captainless and completely out of control and at the mercy of whichever way the tide took it.

Often we make so many mess-ups and even when we don't know what we are doing we can rely on God that he indeed does now what He is doing and he doesn't "mess up".

Let's not be like Ben's boats in the muddle of raging water. Let's not be at the mercy of whatever tide is running at the moment. Let's put our hands in the hand of God and let Him lead, I know I did and I have never regretted it.

Sure, things haven't been all that plain sailing but this one thing I know for sure is that God will never let us go. If he brings us to it, in His mighty plan for us, He will certainly see us though it.

God bless you this week - Keep focused on Jesus - He will keep His hand in yours

Monday, 2 April 2018

Anytime you think about making a questionable decision - think twice (Steve Smith Australian Ex Cricket Captain)

Well what can one say? The Australian Cricket team has brought disaster on themselves and probably to a lot of other Aussies - all I can say as a cricket enthusiast that we here in Australia are disappointed to say the least and devastated that some now think of Aussies as cheats and con artists.

Cricket, the gentleman's game has been dragged though the South African mud and three of our bigger players have been sent home in disgrace and suspended for indefinite times from playing the game they love.

If you hadn't heard yet, which is unlikely, but the Aussies were caught 'red handed' ball tampering and using sand paper, of all things, to 'rough up' the ball so it would either have to be replaced or would cause the South African Team to miss hit.

Steve Smith the Captain, David Warner Vice Captain and the bowler Cameron Bancroft apparently all knew what was due to happen when Bancroft went out to bowl - the sandpaper given to him by Warner with the OK from Smith.

It was all very sad for the whole game of cricket with all three sent home separately with Smith being jostled and abused as he left Cape Town - everything fell apart for them and the team and actually for Australia.

At the press conference held upon landing in Australia, Smith was distraught in tears as he apologised to the nation for his action and he asked for forgiveness.

So how should we react to this?

I am so reminded of what Jesus said when confronted with the crowd wanting to stone a woman supposedly for being taken in adultery - As far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on that one - I can imagine what it was like in those days - poor girl probably was being abused - but that is just my opinion.

Anyway the crowd was so intent on stoning the lass, all they could see was revenge and the fact that they could judge her. Also they desperately wanted to try to 'trip' Jesus and goad Him into making a decision which they knew didn't include killing the girl.

It's a bit like what is happening here in Australia at the moment - so many people wanting to pass judgement on our three wayward boys of cricket and so so ready to 'stone' them or at least string them up.

I really feel the apology came from the heart of the three guys involved - but it still makes me wonder would they have owned up had they not been caught.

Again, this brings me to my life, so may times I have messed up, so many times I have seemingly 'got away with it' - But have I really?

God gives us an amazing thing called a conscience, and when that conscience is ruled by the Holy Spirit, then that is when you are in a situation where you HAVE to do something about the mess you have made.

The amazing part about all of this is that Jesus through His Spirit will guide you through the dark times and give you courage and boldness that you never thought you even possessed.

I have personally been in that situation many times and can vouch to the fact that indeed Jesus through His Spirit can and will guide you - You still have to pass through the hard times but He will definitely see you through it - Praise God for this.

So where does that leave us with our three delinquent cricketers?

Going back to our story of Jesus and the mocking crowd and the woman taken in adultery. Jesus' answer floored the crowd - "he who is without sin, cast the first stone" - not one was game enough to pick up a single stone not one!

So how can we not forgive after that? Are any one of us ready to pick up a stone? How can we in all conscience not give these guys our forgiveness?

Of course they will all have to carry the fact of what they did and cop the whole consequences of the incident on the chin. They may never live it down not ever.

So it is, when we mess up our lives - some of the decisions we make could have dire effects on us for our entire lives, but the amazing part of being a Christian is that we have the mighty forgiveness of God if we come to Him and truly repent and begin to walk with Him wherever He leads us in the future.

We can start again with Jesus our King and Saviour, who paid the price for our sin way back on calvary all those years ago.

Putting the past behind us and accepting that Jesus has paid the price for all of our mess-ups is just so encouraging and helps us to move forward in our lives regardless of what we have done or where we have been.

I really trust that you will try to put the past behind you this week, especially if you are carrying around a burden on your own shoulders that is becoming increasingly hard to bear.

Jesus wants to be your burden-bearer. After all that is why he died so cruelly for us all - to take our burdens and help us to re-start our lives with Him.

Promise me you will at least think about what is happening in your life and if you are really troubled and burdened, please give it Jesus - you may still have to live with the consequences but your actual burden will be released as you accept the forgiveness of God and the mighty restoring power of the crucified Jesus, who paid your penalty for you.

God bless.















Wednesday, 14 March 2018

It is no secret what God can do

Just been listening to my friends from Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands singing a song my sister and I used to sing when we were little guys growing up here in Australia - IT IS NO SECRET WHAT GOD CAN DO.  The link follows if you would like to hear it - the lyrics say a lot to me - hope it blesses you too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHWUmJSM63w

So often we mess up in our walk with Jesus - the thing is He doesn't want us to be discouraged - God is just so ready to forgive us and welcome us back into fellowship with Him.

That very fact alone should encourage us to keep coming back to Him and starting again.

When you first become a Christian you start on a journey that has so many twists and turns it will make your head spin.

One minute you are praising God sailing along on a beautiful lake, next you are fighting some spiritual monster in a dark cave or battling along on a big treacherous mountain called doubt or anxiety or worry. There as just so many unexpected turns it can be quite natural to lose our way and suddenly find ourselves going backwards - a situation where none of us want to be!

When we go backwards with Jesus it means we can't possibly keep walking with Him - we let go of His hand and we find ourselves floundering along on our own - the dark times seem to get darker and the trials and temptations seem to multiply and we have no real way of overcoming them and they just mount up in our lives one after the other until we feel like we are drowning - which in a dramatic and tragic way we actually are.

Going backwards and leaving Jesus and what he has done for us can have disastrous consequences not only spiritually but physically also - we can become so despondent that we actually become ill with depression and anxiety - it can effect not only ourselves but our families and friends - our relationship with people can be changed for ever.

Going in reverse in our Christian walk can be a deliberate decision unfortunately, and can bring overpowering feelings of guilt like a tsunami exploding in our lives, sometimes on a daily basis, which can be devastating and can debilitate us for eternity.

But there is also some great news here! GOD LOVES YOU AND ME! Even though you may be going to reverse He wants to re-call you - just like Volkswagen have done recently to some of their models. We are precious to God and he doesn't want any of us to go in reverse.

Please know this, that our Heavenly Father wants you to return to Him. He is open to your prayers and if you are truly sincere in turning from your sin and genuinely wish to come back to Him, then He will respond with love, mercy and above all forgiveness.

Is there anything holding you back right now from asking God to forgive you and coming back into His open arms? God's promises are true and certain - He has said in His word that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (which include deliberately turning our back on Him) and to wash us clean from all of our past sins. - Pretty awesome if you ask me!

Please don't let your overwhelming sense of guilt and shame hold you back from re-uniting with God.

Another thing we can do is to try to put right anything that you know which could hold you back from having a really close relationship with God. Maybe you are having a hard time trying to forgive and vice versa. Ask God for wisdom in knowing how to handle situations from your past that can often affect your walk with God in the future.

Unfortunately Christians do sin and we will continue to do so until we are eventually taken to be with God and then our life will never be influenced by this world, temptations and trials ever again. On saying that please, let's not be defined or identified with sin especially those sins that have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.

I touched on this subject in one of my blogs way back - the link follows - It's called the EVIL TWIN and talks about how we as Christians still have the remnants of our old life within us - That's why it is SO IMPORTANT  to keep focused on Jesus as we live in this crazy world of ours:-

https://itsbygracealone.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/the-evil-twin.html

When we first came to Christ we became new creations in Him - meaning that the very Spirit of God - the Holy Spirit came and lived in our lives, producing in us a changed life - we are no longer "controlled by sin".  So if you have found yourself going in reverse, and you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you and urging you to come back, you can always!

That said, on the other hand, a so-called christian who feels no remorse, who can sin without thought, even deny Christ who brought them to the cross in the first place, then that person never truly knew Christ to begin with.

I truly believe that those who belong to Christ will remain with Him regardless because God will NEVER let them out of His hand. True! we may start going in reverse, but like me, God will not let you properly rest until you have come back to Him and been washed anew by the blood of Jesus. Sins forgiven and forgotten.

On the other side of the coin to that, a person who rejects the saving grace of Jesus, turning their backs on faith, trust and the very mercy of God, then I believe that these people never belonged to Christ in the first place.

In 2 Timothy 12 it says quite plainly "If we disown Him (Jesus) then He will disown us". Pretty damning words and brutally honest. BUT if your conscience is seared and you feel you need to get right with God then please don't delay - get it right - come back and start afresh with Jesus.

God bless you this week as you start afresh with Jesus - let me know how you feel and Sue and I will pray for you and encourage you through your walk with Him.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Sometimes ya gotta wing it when you don't know how to fly

Just back from a mighty week away at the Tamworth Country Music Festival watching our 14 year old Grandblessing,  Elyssa Faith perform.


For those who have never heard of the Tamworth Country Music Festival just suffice to say that Tamworth here in Australia is the tiniest, youngest sibling of  Nashville USA. Enough said?

Elyssa Faith is an up and coming young star so keep an eye on her career - she is just hanging out to go to Nashville one day and I'm sure she may - she certainly has that Country feel about her voice, that's for sure.

She also sings in a duo called the Amity Angels and they have just released their very first EP - all very exciting stuff for us here in Rankin Park.

Here she is courtesy of her brother Sam's photography. Check him out on instagram:-  deodorant_can_productions

Anyway while we were there we heard this amazing young man sing his own original song which included the lyrics "Sometimes ya gotta wing it when you don't know how to fly - sometimes ya gotta sing it when you don't know all the lines."

While we were listening I couldn't help thinking just how often we as Christians have to 'wing it' when it comes to following Jesus.

How many times have we been put on the spot feeling that God really wants us to do something here - I know I have and I must admit to my failing which is to immediately say "No way Lord! I can't do that!" I've lost count!  But it is at those times when we eventually do give in and submit to His will a feeling of immense closeness to the very Creator of the universe  sort of creeps over us and we end up being the very ones blessed.

I remember feeling the need to volunteer at a palliative care hospice - completely out of left field came this desire and a feeling of necessity and urgency that I really had no option than to obey the call which I eventually decided must have come from God.

It's times like these that not only leave you feeling super-blessed but also amazingly close to God especially if you have been fortunate enough to share just a smidgen of Christ's love and strength to someone along the way.

Something that we all have to learn which is so often so hard especially when it means you having to step out of your comfort zone and like good old Moses when confronted by God to go get the people out of Egypt said "No way - I'm too old - I have a family - I can't speak I have a speech impediment etc. " We can all come up with THE most amazing excuses - I know first hand because I have said so to God so many times.

What we need to do when we sense God is calling us is to step out with confidence taking time to pray, asking for wisdom and if you don't get a sincere change of plans then set off in the direction in which He is pointing you and do it with confidence.

Jesus Himself is a prime example for us here - He didn't  really WANT to go to the cross and basically He didn't have to but He did it because He knew God, His father, willed it and wanted Him to do it to save you and me - a mind blowing thought of huge proportions.

So when we do step out with God into this fallen world of ours where even the innocent seem to suffer, and suffer intolerably, it has raised for me the question of how I, or we in this case, should act toward God in such a world?

So if our fear of maybe 'suffering' for Jesus is stalling our motivation to 'wing it when we don't know how to fly" I personally feel that we have to come to a point in our lives where we trust the very one who has the wisdom to have called us in the first place.

I have learned and would like to pass onto you one of my biggest lessons and that is not to know why we are suffering but to know and fear God who is the very source of all wisdom.

When we are standing on the very edge of change and that fearful feeling comes over us like a big black wet blanket we MUST reach out for God - the very author of wisdom. If he called us to do what seems to us to be THE most terrifying thing we have ever done, then He will see us through it. We just HAVE to depend on that.

A definite peace will come to us once we have trusted in his complete sovereignty. Once we firmly know that God has the ultimate control in the situation in which we find ourselves, we can then step out with boldness and even courage, trusting in the God who placed us here.

The last few blogs I have written touches on doubt and fear and these can make us so hesitant to do what we plainly know is God's will for us. It is when we are feeling like this that we need to trust Him more and submit to His will and His direction for us.

I know it may seem harsh and ever so frightening but I will guarantee that you will end up being the very one blessed by the change that God has placed on your heart.

So in conclusion I would just reiterate that we may have to 'wing it' for Jesus sometimes - especially if you feel you 'just can't fly'. Those times when you feel God is calling you to move on or move out, take up the calling with confidence and trust in the one who calls you.

God will never let you down - on the other side of the coin if you feel you are in the wrong place and the wrong time, again, don't be afraid to move out regardless of the pressure that can come to bear.

God will certainly let us know where we should be and what we should be doing. The thing is are we trusting Him enough to listen to His call with confidence and surety?









Sunday, 11 February 2018

Wanna settle that score?

Oh Man! - How many times throughout my life and I'm guessing yours as well have we sought or longed for revenge - we need to desperately settle that score that's been hanging over our heads for so long.

Thing is when we take revenge it is 99.9% with impure motives - God has told us countless times in the Bible that it is His job to take revenge not ours!

We know deep in our hearts that awful feeling when we feel so defeated - we are bruised we are beaten and honestly it's like a constant battle - we are up against this never-ending feeling of anger mixed with self-pity and a desperate need to get back at whatever or whoever have hurt us so badly.

When we are feeling like this it is so so tempting to to try to take the role of God and heap vengeance on the heads of the hurtful ones - I guess that's why God gave us this command in Leviticus somewhere that we should not seek revenge against those who hurt us and we shouldn't even bear a grudge - instead we should love our enemies and pray for those who treat us badly PHEW!!

Non-retaliation even non-violence is discussed in the Bible- I found Matthew 5: 38-42 where Jesus points out as plainly as the nose on your face that vengeance is wrong and as far as seeking to 'settle that score" well enough said - in fact Jesus says that if we are the victims of malicious or violent attacks we should go to the opposite extreme.

Of course that doesn't mean that we should stand idly by and let someone beat-up on our family or not try to protect or property or our country but what Jesus is saying here, is that there is no place for wrath in our dealing with everyday people even those who we feel need to have our vengeance extracted upon them.

I have struggled so hard with this over the years and as I have got older, more and more have I come to realise that even in our thoughts we can play the vengeance game - you know, thinking of all the things we could say or do to 'that' person. In lots of ways I call this self-vengeance where I get a sort of satisfaction for a few seconds from reliving and thinking about what I would say or do. Believe me it doesn't work!

Being and thinking like this only re-enforces and implants those negative and damaging thoughts firmer in our brains where we get to the stage where we can think of little else.

Self-vengeance like this really has no place in a Christian's life at all. If we are truly committed to God then we need to trust Him that He will deal with any retaliation that needs to take place - and we have to rest assured that that retaliation will be done fairly and justly not at all like we would have carried it out had we had our way.

We need to knock those feeling of retaliation of the head firmly when they appear in our lives. Saying that I realise that that is not such an easy thing to think about let alone do.

When someone has really hurt us our very inner being cries out for justice. This is brought home to us time and time again when we see that person seemingly 'getting away with it'.  It hurts us it really does. So what do we have to do - how do we overcome these wretched feelings that can override our thoughts day and night?

We HAVE to rely on God - we just can't become vengeful people - it says in Ephesians 4:32 that we have to forgive in the very same manner that Christ forgives us - I know and realise that it is such a hard thing to do and the only real way of dojng it is to give it over to God.

Truly evil people will pay in the end that's for sure. BUT the thing is, we should be trying desperately not to condone our consciences with that fact - NO! not at all. Actually the opposite is what we should we doing.

The people who have hurt us may feel like they have skirted around God and have won a battle BUT the war isn't over yet not by a long chalk. They may be feeling very satisfied with what they have "achieved" and feeling like they are some sort of champion but we are the ones who are still in the war - we are the ones who are still not giving up - we are the ones who are still not giving in.

We should be trying so hard to win these people over to God. In that way, they will see how their actions and their words have hurt or even maimed. We need to pin our hopes on the only one who can save them - Our Lord and Saviour. We need to pray that they will turn to Christ, repent and be saved. Only He can change them - we certainly can't.

We are in a battle here on earth. Satan and his hoards are out to get us at every turn - and yes! we mess up time and time again BUT we are over-comers not by what we have done or achieved but by what Jesus did  all those years ago.

So lets not waste our time and our lives banging our heads up against a brick wall here and certainly not let our hearts get so heavy that we lose the fight and give in to these feelings of vengeance and retaliation.

Jesus has won the battle - let's concentrate on changing these people so that they can see their mistakes and come over to the winning side. At the same time let's make sure that we are right with God as well - confess to Him our feelings of revenge and retaliation and turn over a new page and restart winning this battle.













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Friday, 2 February 2018

just the tip of the iceberg

The sinking of the RMS Titanic happened on the night of the 14th April 1912 when it struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, The huge ship listed until it finally sank in the early hours of the 15th April claiming the lives of 1500 people making it the biggest peace time maritime disasters at that time.

The Titanic was labelled unsinkable at the time of  it's construction and launch with, as everybody thought, every conceivable safety precaution in place. But they didn't reckon on the iceberg.

Most icebergs in that area usually calved off  fjord lands in Greenland and from calving to melting usually is around two to three years. All that taken into account and where the ship was it is likely that the iceberg that sunk the Titanic was calved off around 1910 to 1911 and became just a final little splash of fresh water in the huge Atlantic Ocean by 1912 at most.

There are a few pictures of the iceberg in question if you care to search google - and the red paint of the Titanic clearly visible.

I must say that I have been an avid fan of the Titanic and also the Olympic and the Britannic her sister ships. All had a huge and very interesting history. So I was very surprised when they finally located the Titanic which lies about 600 Kilometres south off the coast of Greenland in about 3,800 metres of icy cold water.

It's amazing isn't it that there was the iceberg carving in 1910/1911, the noise of which must have been horrendous like all huge icebergs are when the calve, and there was the Titanic in slips of the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast Ireland - what a destiny awaited them both.

The people boarding the Titanic on the fateful voyage had no idea what awaited them - that out there in the dark Atlantic 1000's of miles away that iceberg was already on her collision course that would actually change the face of history.

Reading afresh about the Titanic got me thinking just how many times I have been on a collision  course with what the world calls FATE? I'm not a big fan of FATE and DESTINY but in lots of ways that is the direction the world of today is heading.

They are rudderless and Captainless in huge, dark and icy oceans - drifting along and often lurching from one crisis to anther - a situation in which we would all agree. I doubt any country is free from crises and foreboding and at the whim of seemingly and often confused governments and politicians.

My own personal icebergs surrounded me ceaselessly often crashing into my flimsy little barque over and over again causing mountainous seas and great caverns of seemingly never-ending valleys of deep dark icy water then only to be thrown and crashed once more by another huge monster wave I didn't see coming.

I was rudderless and had no hope struggling to keep my head above water and hopelessly bailing for my life. - then JESUS....

It was when I was about to sink and become another victim of the oceans ravages when out of my darkness came this amazing and incredible light - the very fact that Jesus found me was miracle enough let alone doing what he did to save me!!

I was so buried in sin I had no idea that my life could be changed so dramatically. I was definitely on a collision course with my own personal iceberg. It would have shown the red mark of a collision just as the Titanic's ice berg had all those years ago and I like the Titanic would have sunk to the bottom of the sea.

I figured my past was beyond saving! I was carrying this incredible burden of  sin and guilt.

Things had happened in my past that in my own opinion was unforgivable, totally wrong and deserved an excruciating death and punishment. No one, I thought, could possible forgive such a wastrel as I,  but how wrong was that thinking!

I had been to church for years, concealing a lot of my past, burying it along with my own self confidence and abilities - I had listened to the good news of Jesus and thought that it was great for someone else but not for me.

The Jesus came - He showed me that even the VERY worst of sinners can be forgiven - THE VERY WORST!!

I gave Him my everything - I held nothing back - he grabbed me as I was slipping over the edge and hauled me back to Him.

I realise that absolutely YES and Hallelujah!!! another big YES!!! THE most VILE and disgusting sinner can come to Jesus and he will wash you clean.

You can be forgiven and your life can be dramatically turned around regardless of WHAT you have done or where you have been or even who you have been with!

The most consistent and corrupt person can come to Jesus and find at Calvary, the place where Jesus shed His blood as a sacrifice for sin, the very place where your sins can be covered over never to seen again and forgotten (how about that) by God the Father.

So when we finally come to God, we don't come on our own holiness and goodness but we come in the very holiness and goodness and righteousness of Jesus Himself.

I praise God for that day in 2010, the Monday after Father's day would you believe, that the very light of God's amazing grace finally got through to this brain and heart of mine and changed me for good and for eternity.

The very worst of sinners, me included, can be saved by the all-sufficiency of Jesus. His sinless life encompassed mine and I will never be the same again. HALLELUJAH

So where are you on your collision course with your personal iceberg? I now know that mine has been melted by the very love of Jesus and the extraordinary grace of God.

My personal ocean although pretty rough at times can be negotiated every single time with the right hand of God with Jesus at the tiller. Sure things can go pear-shaped so easily and yes! I have lost it a lot since 2010 BUT HEY!! God is still the Captain and I hang on tight to Jesus through the roughest seas and He definitely sees me though.

Happy sailing to you but make sure you hand the tiller over to Jesus.













Wednesday, 17 January 2018

You cannot shake hands with a closed fist (Indira Ghandi)

You cannot shake hands with a closed fist - Interesting quote there by Indira Ghandi the assassinated Prime Minister of India who was killed by her two bodyguards on 31st October, 1984.

Interestingly she was voted Woman of the Millennium in 1999 years after her death.

When I was reading about her life I notice what she had said about not being able to shake hands with closed fist and it made me think of the all the "unlovely"people that I have come in contact with that I find so hard to love!

Jesus said if we are His then we must find it in our hearts not only to forgive them but to love them.

I'm  wondering if this so called love is the same for everyone - should I love them in the same  way that I love my wife and our kids? Or is there a special love that is reserved for the  unlovely in this world that makes it easier for me to love them?

I had to grapple with this question when I read in the Bible that God loves everyone. Personally I would find it hard to love terrorists and people who have really hurt others in abominable ways in the same way as I love my two children and five grandchildren

I wonder what God would think of this situation - after all Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and commands us to love as he does.

In my previous blogs I have related how I was sexually abused by my older bother and that fact alone makes me hesitant to love everyone as as I love my own family and as I love God - yes I may have forgiven him to an extent but to love sacrificially to Him?? I must admit I struggle with that.

I know that Christians emphatically are to be people who love, actually exuding love, communicating love and give sacrificial love - after all Jesus "demonstrated His love for us that while we were still sinners he died for us"(Romans 5:8) - so if Jesus could die for us sinners then we should imitate that love for everyone. Sadly I fail, as I reckon we all do, to an extent in  not imitating this amazing love for others.

It says in John 13:35 that people will know we are Christians and Jesus' disciples in the way that we love each other.

All this taken into account I still struggle with showing the same measure of love to everyone I meet.

I take my cue from the Paul when he wrote to the church in Galatia and told them to do good to everyone but ESPECIALLY the church - so Paul here is saying that ESPECIALLY the church - the ones who love God we are to show special love (Galatians 6:10).

I feel we are given family as a true gift from God - and because of that we have a huge obligation toward our spouses and our children as special gifts from God and true blessings. In fact it's a moral obligation as well. This moral obligation to my mind is far far greater than that extended to others.

In 1 John 3:1 John writes Think how much the Father loves us. he loves us so much that he lets us be called His children, as we truly are. But since the people of this world did not know who Christ is, then they do not know who we are. (CEV).  The NIV version calls it a lavished love - WOW!

To my mind Jesus loves his children - the church - in a very special way - just like Israel held a  very special place in His heart - we His children hold a very special place there as well.

I believe there are distinctions in the love that we show to mankind and our families - We are to love our enemies - that is plain to all who have ever read the Bible (Matthew 5: 43-48) and we are to show goodness and kindness to all but there is in my mind a special love reserved for our spouses, children and families and our church families.

God has shown me in countless ways that I should love my brother, forgive my brother, even pray for my brother but God has also given me a family that is such a blessing to me and he has given a love for them in my heart that overrides all others. Is that wrong? I would heartily disagree and say in fact that it is a VERY special blessing indeed!

God loves His own people in very special ways - he loves us His followers intimately and intensely. In this way I feel we as Christians love our spouses, children and families in very special ways as well.

We are commanded to show God's love, humility, grace and mercy to others. Likewise we are to love Christ, our spouses and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in very special ways indeed.

I would be most interested to hear what you think and what you feel about this - please contact me or leave replies.

God bless you this week as you tackle the subject on unconditional love and to love and Christ does.