Friday, 17 November 2017

Does that ring a bell?

"Does that ring a bell?" - How often have we heard that saying? - some long time memory forgotten maybe? Something that has just been brought back to your mind?

Maybe a phrase or a word or especially a name can bring good or bad memories flooding back to our hearts and minds - often overwhelming us with joy - or bringing us into dark despair.

My life has been one of topsy turvy feelings when I look backwards - which is something I do with uncertainty and often BIG regrets and something I try to avoid doing on a regular basis.

Just a few months ago I wrote about the elephant in the room and I figure sometimes it is so much better to address the obvious in your life so that we can eventually put it behind us - we can so easily dodge around the hard things in life - knowing they are there and quite clearly stopping us from moving forward as it were but so often we decide to ignore the truth and just press on anyway.

So it is with many of us  - never quite game to evict the elephant and grow stronger especially in Jesus - NO! we decide to dodge the obvious and let the elephant thrive and continue to grow until like my problem, it becomes really huge and hard to evict.

I was sexually abused as a child of 13 by an older brother and the guilt I carried around with that was enormous and it still is - now that I have grown old myself it has become even harder to expel from my life until I have had to admit that it really is time I have put it to rest.

I had no idea my guilt feelings were effecting my own family until just recently when all sorts of things and events start happening which pointed the light fairly and squarely at the good old elephant in the room and I found myself breaking down at the slightest provocation and finding it hard to continue.

My faith in God has seen me through probably THE most toughest year of my life so far and yet I still find myself needing reassurance and positive thoughts so that my immediate family is not scarred further with how my own life has played out.

Seeing professional help is certainly not a wrong thing to do and I know deep in my heart that God has given people amazing gifts and talents and I really feel that they may be able to help, to a certain degree, in outing the past and to live purposefully and in victory.

There are a lot of Christian psychologists and psychiatrists out there but even there they are unable to give you the perfect answer to complicated and long ago problems. They can certainly help us identify long hurts and grievances and maybe even to put to bed old wounds and scars that have tripped us up over and over again.

The real truth is that there is only ONE place that you will get the real answer to your problems and that is on the Word of the Living God - it is here that you will receive the tools and ability to really get behind that elephant and give it the heave ho out of your life for good.

I am just so sorry that I didn't realise the entire truth of the God's amazing Word years ago which would have saved me so much heartache and despair and also stopped putting my own family through turmoil and distress.

Do I blame the perpetrator? - I must say I have struggled with this question over and over again - I have approached him and tried communicating over the years to no avail whatever - I have, many times brought to it God in prayer. To be completely honest with you and myself, I often wonder what I would have done if he had reciprocated and returned my overtones? Would I have truly forgiven him?

Forgiveness and putting things behind us is amazingly and overwhelmingly HUGE and a problem that can only be solved through the incredible work of the Holy Spirit living inside of us - I honestly don't know how I would have survived these past years without His work in my life.

So where do I go from here? If you have faced or are dealing with your own elephant in the room, where do you go from here?

I personally am about to receive counselling which probably at my age can help - it's certainly not out of the question but ultimately it is really up to the individual. You and you alone are responsible for taking seriously the Word of God - you and you alone are the only one to allow God to transform you into the person He wants you to be.

Our personal growth in Jesus depends on just how willing you are to want God to change you which He can do in remarkable ways. I know because he has changed me.

Yes! I am still in the woods and sometimes my days can be dark and foreboding - but you know deep down - deep way way down is a real peace that this world and our pasts can never take away from us.

Jesus is alive - He is so willing to love you in such a special way that your past and what ever happened to you along the way will start fading in miraculous and spectacular ways that you would never think possible.

Yes! I will receive counselling and Yes! I am looking forward to it helping me somewhat - but the real lifeline through all of this is how Jesus is slowly transforming me into His likeness which I guess is what Christianity is all about anyway.

So as you trundle along in today's world, maybe carrying along with you your own guilt or trouble, if something keeps 'ringing a bell' with you, take it Jesus - I wish I had I earnestly do, because I really feel that He could have worked miracles in my life much sooner than I had let Him.

God bless you this week as you address your own problems or guilt feelings. Just please remember that any counselling you receive must be filtered through your own knowledge of the Word of God. Yes, people can assist, they can motivate and help us put things into perspective but it is ONLY Jesus that can ultimately put our hearts and souls at rest in Him.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Singapore, Australia, World War 2 and Radji Beach

In was 12 the February, 1942 and Singapore was in the grip of a mighty Japanese invasion that would see hundreds of people scrambling onto the wharves to flee.

Among those were 65 Australian Nurses serving their country through the last days of the fall of Singapore.

They boarded a coastal freighter called the SS Vyner brooke but it was not meant to be as the doomed voyage was attacked by Japanese aircraft and sunk.

A group of  survivors including the 22 nurses eventually were washed up on Radji beach a remote beach off the coast of Singapore and due to their onerous plight voted to surrender to the Japanese rather than to starve to death.

A Japanese patrol found the nurses but did not accept their surrender and divided them into three groups and the executions began.

The Australian nurses were in the last group and died in a hail of bullets as they walked abreast into the sea.

Miraculously, there was one survivor, Vivian Bullwinkel, who in spite of a bullet wound which actually passed right through her side, missing vital organs and feigning death she endured 13 days in the jungle before surrendering to another Japanese patrol.

Vivian was re-united with the other surviving Vyner brooke nurses in a makeshift camp and these 'beyond' courageous women went on to experience the internment camps, starvation and disease over the next 3 and 1/2 years. Twenty four including Vivien made it home to their beloved Australia.

(excerpt from ON RADJI BEACH  by Ian W. Shaw)

What a courageous, amazing and gutsy women these nurses were in the 2 World War, suffering so badly there in Singapore - not really all that far away from their homeland Australia.

Their story touched my heart enormously when I read it and filled me with an overwhelming sense of pride to be an Australian - what fortitude - what bravery.

Even while the SS Vyner Brooke was sinking these nurses were assisting the wounded and the dying. absolutely astounding!

During the bombing raid Vivien recalled how many many passengers and crews were thrown into the water. She continued "No sooner had the passengers hit the water than the enemy aircraft returned, firing into the water and causing utter chaos, devastation and torturous and lingering death to many"

Vivien eventually made it the shore of Radji Beach by holding on to the side of a lifeboat. Vivien had watched many of her colleagues swept away in make shift rafts never to be seen again, she had seen many of her friends brutally killed by machine gun fire and many others drowned horribly that fateful night.

After her remarkable repatriation to Australia Vivien was awarded numerous awards for her contributions to nursing, only accepting them to keep the memory alive of her fallen comrades.

I know it is hard to believe but after 50 years on from the massacre on Radji beach, Vivien returned with fellow nurses who were with her aboard the SS Vyner Brooke and unveiled a memorial on the beach to her friends and colleagues whose bodies were never recovered from the terrible massacre.

To my mind Vivien was a real commander in chief - a woman destined to lead - a women strong, brave and courageous - always putting others ahead of her own needs - keeping alight encouragement and always building up never tearing down - a positive and confident young woman showing incentive and fortitude in one the most horrible and soul destroying places on earth.

When I think of Vivien and her attributes I can't help but think of another young man who at only 33 years of age gave His all to save us - He was our very own Commander in Chief - our own Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world.

That same Jesus is coming again one day - he will come in a twinkling of an eye and every person will see Him - not sure how but Hey! I truly believe what the Bible says and that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is indeed the Lord the Saviour of the world.

During that horrible and horrendous experience that Vivien and her nurses went through one message kept them going and that was "just hang on". Even though they were brutally treated - even though towards the end their skin was stretched over their skeletons and you could see every bone - even though they were all sickly and frail that message of "just hang on" rang true and clear.

They did indeed hang on and were eventually rescued - we so need to 'hang on' through today's world.

Every day it seems it is getting harder and harder to be a Christian. Every day more and more of the world is turning against our faith and our beliefs. Here is Australia we are certainly getting the message of hatred and enmity against Jesus and what he taught and stands for.

My message to you is just to "hang on" we need to be true to Jesus and true to ourselves. We need to show the world out there that whatever they throw at us it will not dampen our wills and our love for the Lord who saved us.

Jesus will come back - we do not know when but we can rest assured that He will one day and when that day comes we can claim the victory through Him.

No matter what you have done or where you have been Jesus loves you with an amazing and constant love that can far outreach any human love here on earth.

Come to Him without delay, ask his forgiveness and accept His free gift of eternal life. It certainly isn't going to be an easy ride but what Jesus does do is give you a deep down peace that can surpass anything you have ever experienced before.

His very own Spirit will come and live inside of you giving you a joy and love for others that you never thought possible. Also your past is gone - gone and forgotten. You won't have to keep dragging it around behind you any more. Jesus died to take away that past with all of its twists and turns and guilt.

So hang in there and stride out with Jesus. With Him by your side your life can change in the most miraculous ways.

My prayer this week:-
Lord when the path seems crooked and I stumble, remind me that you are 
always just ahead of me leading the way. Amen

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

A clear conscious is a soft pillow (French proverb)

Ever gone to bed with this huge worry on your mind that gives you this amazing knot in your stomach?

I have and I know it can be an absolute horrible and trying night - that's for sure!

There are just so many things that can play havoc with our conscience. Addictions, offences to another, family breakups, violence, repetitive sin and even greed can mar our minds and give us anxiety and a sense of unrest in all aspects of our lives.

The world is literally awash with examples of man's feeble attempts to appease his/her consciences but I'm afraid to say all to no avail.

There are all sorts of people in this world and all of us have a conscience and whether that conscience is all clear is whether we can control what we say and do and whether we can really rest easy in our beds at night.

Maybe you are the type of person who has unhelpful self-statements and thoughts and they have become a habit hard to break. If we constantly use our unhelpful self-statements to ourselves we can cause ourselves no end of emotional stress and trauma marring and scarring our consciences which could lead to serious depression and even self-harm.

Personally I am a 'tiger' for catastrophising - that is blowing little things out of all proportion. I can view a small problem as huge, terrible, horrible, awful and full of dread and woe.

This can have a huge effect on my conscience and then the feeling of guilt of things gone on in my past often things I had and have no control over whatever. I can take on the responsibilities of people I hardly know and feel responsible for many and varied slip ups resulting in a huge burden of guilt that I carry around and again, can mar and spoil my conscience.

Maybe you are the type of person who places really unreasonable demands or pressure on yourself and even others. The "I should - I must" syndrome is alive and well and living in you. But putting these demands and pressures on yourself can create very unrealistic expectations and when you can't fulfill these unrealistic pressures,  huge guilt takes their place.

Once we start carrying around with us unrealistic and huge pressures, stress comes streaming in, causing us to have any number of side effects that could easily spoil our relationships, work life and even our home situations.

All sorts of things can cause us to have low moods and if it goes on unchecked can cause depression. Everyone has from time to time low moods caused by just every day living in this topsy turvy world of ours. But when that low mood is allowed to fester, then it can effect our entire body causing emotional and physical symptoms.

Depression can cause anything from loss of interest in activities to disturbed sleep - insomnia, poor eating or no appetite at all to overeating. Lack of energy and feeling 'the guilts' over nothing.

We can become obsessive in our behaviour. Letting our minds go to unwanted thoughts that occur over and over again with no respite.

Uncertainty over the future can cause a lot of us to spoil and destroy the harmony we had with each other. Guilt can also cause us heaps of troubles feeling like we are not what we ought to be.

If you are suffering from acute depression or anxiety, please don't try to control it on your own - you may need help from professional people and please don't put yourself down if that's what you have to do. There is really nothing wrong with seeking help from someone with the tools to help us cope.

Whatever has caused a troubled conscience, our Lord and God has an answer - we can come to him with anything and everything no matter what we have done, who we have upset, what symptoms we are showing and just how bad we can be feeling.

It says in the bible to seek God while he can be found. He does really forgive all of our sins. Please don't let a troubled conscience stop you from seeking God. He gives you confidence in his presence and restores joy to your life. Once you repent of your sins God can give you great confidence in your life - all fears can be gone.

Your conscience can be clean when you know God. Own your mistakes face your troubles with assurance and confidence.  God can completely clean the broken garbage of our lives.

So today if you are suffering from a seared conscience, maybe an absolute condemning of yourself, feeling that nothing you do is good enough or a  feeling of total guilt, please pour it out to God. Come to Him in confession and true repentance.

There is no need to put on a front with God, Faith in God is not just knowing - Faith is  responding in obedience to Him - remembering that "THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN".

That seared conscience that we can't get rid of ourselves, the blood of Jesus cleanses it all.

I pray that God will work in your heart today and that you will find peace, comfort and a deep down joy that can never fade regardless of whatever you have been or are carrying around with you.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

The Barn Dance

Oh the Barn Dance and variations thereof!

Right side, left together, right side kick and
Left step forward, right kick across (scoot to the left), Right step forward (scoot to the right)
then Do-Si-Do and around you go

and so it goes on and on and on ad nauseum.

Ever been to a Barn Dance? - they can be quite a lot of fun and quite exhausting.

For us, after our grown son got married and moved away it took quite a bit of getting used to - He was our first born and he and I did quite a lot of activities together from soccer to fishing to cricket to guitar playing, he and I were inseparable as he was growing up. We were "team Dad and Dan" and we loved to spend time in each others company.

Of course through the teenage years things changed, girls came on the scene and growing up, studying, going to Uni and finding a job all took it's toll on our relationship but we always seemed to be able to 'get it together' and virtually take up where we had left off wherever that happened to be.

One girl seemed to stick around a lot longer than the others and it's a funny feeling as a dad to see a relationship blossom between your son and this pretty young sweet thing suddenly appearing on the radar seemingly from nowhere.

As a dad I found it particularly strange. Completely expected on one hand and yet bowling me completely over on the other.

She was so sweet, she was so pretty, she was kind and attentive that Dan was completely swept away. Even our 'normal' conversation suddenly seemed different - here was my boy, my team mate, my confidant, my only son being slowly and deliberately led away and I must say I didn't blame him one little bit.

Of course things changed and the inevitable happened - they married and moved away - not too far away but still far enough away for me to lose the vitality of our relationship that we once enjoyed all those years ago.

That's when the 'barn dance' started for me anyway.

When we met up as a family, of course the talk mainly went around in circles and that's why I labelled it "The barn dance" because to me that's exactly what he and I did or so it appeared to me.

The conversation would open the answer would come then around we'd go and do-si-do.

After a few years of do-si-doing this way I decided it was high time Dan and I got back to basics and communicated to each other man to man and father to Son. So I arranged to meet him alone one day.

Over the years we had avoided the real issues in life - like our faith and what Christ meant for us personally. We had continued the barn dance and we had perfected it to a point where that is how we communicated - through programmed steps and movements without really addressing the "elephant in the room" syndrome.

We all know what an "elephant in the room" is - a situation where everyone avoids important issues even though everyone is fully aware that the issue is there yet no-one talks about it.

If we don't address the "elephant" then it can foster wariness, confusion and stilted conversation.

Team Dad and Dan's elephants were many and varied - there they were all grazing in the room, happily munching away in full sight yet invisible and I was determined to scoot them out permanently.

Recognising your elephant is probably the most important first step and then looking at the elephant and making sure that the strategies you put in place to address your elephant won't disengage anyone especially the very one you want to engage in the first place.

Make sure that the elephant is really an elephant and not a personal and private matter best kept to the one who is bearing it. If we don't realise this important step you could alienate the very person you want to bring close to you.

In Dan and my case the elephants were many and varied - probably the major one was our faith - something that we hadn't talked about for many many years.

Faith is absolutely central to the Christian experience and without faith it is impossible to please God. A point I desperately wanted to get through to my boy and something we really needed to discuss.

And so we chatted about things as normal - the usual barn dance commenced and then I prayed and started really chatting about things that we hadn't looked at for years. As the conversation evolved we became more and more like the Dad and Dan Team from way back. The elephants slowly started to make their way out of the room and the more and more we really stated to talk as Father and son and man to man.

The "Faith Elephant"seemed to be the hardest one to move - I think Dan was a little startled when I drew it to his attention but finally even that one decided enough was enough and vacated the premises.

You know, Jesus had no elephants in the room - He didn't barn dance and do-si-do around with anyone he said what he meant and meant what he said - he laid it out plainly for all to see.

His words were sometimes hard to take in because they were the truths and the plan for salvation that would eventually save us. Jesus is truth and honesty personified. There is absolutely no falsehood in Jesus, no pretences, no half truths and certainly no compromises.

All Jesus relationships were based on honesty and truthfulness there was absolutely NO deceit in him at all.

Jesus also looked at things head on - how about the crucifixion? He went willingly to one of THE most excruciating types of executions - as SELAH puts it so well in one their songs "Crucifixion was the most cruelest creation of man"

Jesus didn't even hesitate.  He met his challenge and with truth, honest, courage and boldness he won the day for Himself and for us his followers.

Do you have a challenge today? Of course the very easiest thing to do is to ignore it and pretend it doesn't  matter - do a barn dance variation and do-si-do your way around it or pretend it doesn't even exist and Da Da an elephant in the room has just entered.

Elephants can be fun to watch and barn dancing can be fun to do but when they take the place of great communication they can have devastating effects. Take ownership of your problems, and help face up to them. I am so grateful and glad that team Dad and Dan did just that - it may not have been easy but our relationship has thrived because we did.

God's answer to the elephant in the room? Let Him guide you through it. As Christians and true followers of God we should not be concerned about pointing out blame or being backward in showing the elephant in the room. We shouldn't be prepared to just keep barn dancing around problems either.

Let's take ownership of the problems staring everyone in the face. Let's get with God because between Him and us we CAN fix it.

God bless you this week as you figure out what elephant you are going to evict in your life, family and friends and also let's decide not to do-si-do around anymore - let's be honest, loving and truthful, brave and courageous yet ever so diplomatic in our conversations and friendships.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Requesting - v - Demanding

It was the case of the missing computer that got my mind in a bit of a twist!

My 17 year old Grandblessing lost his work at school just the day before the pre-lims tests for the year 11 finals - as you imagine disaster struck.

Not only did the computer hold all of his work going back through the year but it also held vital papers he needed to complete studying that he had planned for that night.

Realising the computer was not at home, as he thought, a quick dash was called for as he and I zoomed over to school to search in vain with the help of one of the so-obliging cleaning staff.

Off home we set dejectedly to be confronted by a lecture from dad and a mum wringing her hands hoping it would help I presume.

The poor lad was, up to this stage, holding up so well. But then, overwhelmed by the circumstances of the events unfolding at home, just about lost it and went tearing off to his room, there to be flinging things around and hoping to 'remember' all the things he had documented in the folder inside his computer case.

That night was pretty hard on them all as they sat with him pretty well all night helping and encouraging him though it.

As it turned out, one of the teachers had locked the errant computer safely away in some obscure cupboard and he was able to locate it the next day - a tad late for the exam but nevertheless it was found.

My point through all of this was how I (of all people) reacted to this!

As soon as my grandson and I started off to the school I started to pray honestly and feverishly. The whole gist of my prayer centred on "Lord you know where this computer is - please find it for us" then as the night wore my prayer changed from 'Please find it for us "to "Why aren't you finding it for us"?

My prayer subtlety changed from a request in all humility to somewhat of a demand on God and a big question WHY?

You know we can often be demanding in our prayer life and in my opinion achieve nothing - God won't be dictated to and being able to go into the very presence of God does not give any of us a licence to be arrogant or rude in our approach to Him.

Yes! We can pray to Him with respect and honour remembering that here we are approaching the very God of Creation, the God who made us and created us all unique, who gave us life in the fist place.

My prayer to God on this occasion bordered on the DEMAND rather than the REQUEST made out of panic and somewhat anger rather than accepting His will in this situation.

When we pray, none of us have any real idea what God's plans are for us personally or for that matter any of us. His ways are far beyond ours in every respect.

So what have I learnt through this time? Well, not to be so demanding of God - accepting His will and trusting in faith that His will be done.

There is no doubt in my mind that someone who prays authoritatively is a person who knows that there is no need to be afraid to come boldly into the presence of God and ask with faith and expect what has been requested according to God's will.

That is so different to my prayers about the computer where I was demanding from God an answer. A person who demands something from God in this way in my opinion should expect nothing from God.

Often our answers from God are quite unexpected. But should that stop us from praying and keep on knocking at Heavens door to open wide and let us in? certainly not! That's the very time we should be praying.

When we pray we should be very aware that we pray according to His will and not some demand, stamping our feet and commanding that he do something right now!!

In prayer we can be bold and assert our FAITH, rather than assert our IRON WILL. If we assert our faith I really feel that God will move on our behalf, wanting us to seize HIS will for our lives rather that us demanding OUR will be done.

As a man, I often 'want' things done in my way when I want them done and not a moment before or after. I'm afraid God doesn't work like that - His way is FAR more superior.

I have learnt that to really feel the very presence of God in our prayers that we come to Him seeking His way, His kingdom FIRST, then everything else will be provided in His time in his will and His way.

Big thing to learn and in lots of ways I thank him for the "computer incident" which again showed up my futile prayers for what they were.

Just in conclusion let me reiterate that our approach to God MUST NEVER be rude or abusive, arrogant and self-filled.

Let's allow God to be the REAL authority, renewing our lives and our prayers in accordance with His will and plans, never being afraid to approach the very Creator of the universe but coming to Him with boldness and courage, full of faith and believing that his will for us is true and right.

As we come to God in prayer this week let's not hold off on our requests to Him - he really does want to hear them from us His children. But let's not presume we know better than him and try to take over His role, demanding and asserting our own authority and agenda.

Monday, 4 September 2017

And.....The cow tripped over the moon

Whatever would we do without our Grandblessings? That's  the question I asked my wife SueAnn as we both commented on Amelia excitedly telling us about this amazing book that was her reading material for the BOOK WEEK special.

Amelia is in Grade 2 at the local school and was so excited as she relayed all of the book and it's moral to us in graphic and a very amusing way.

THE COW TRIPPED OVER THE MOON was written by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood and tells the story behind the famous nursery rhyme The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.

If you get a chance it is a MUST to read and is jammed full of great things to learn not just for the younger generation but for all of us.

The Cow tripped Over the Moon, is a story of perseverance, endurance, training and triumph.

Tony Wilson is a great author and on his website he has a video clip of him reading to his son Jack, who has cerebral Palsy. Indeed the book is dedicated to his boy with these amazing words "To my beautiful Jack - you will jump moons."

It's a very moving clip and I must admit that it made me fill up a bit.

The book explains how the cow tried and tried to actually jump over the moon and it took her eight attempts but hey! She did it in the end. She contended with meteorites, sunburn, tripping, and all sorts of hurdles in "moon attempts - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 "until at last on moon attempt 8 she made a successful jump just as dawn broke.

It's a very funny yet moving story especially when you know about Jack and his Dad and the special bond they have going.

So I thank our Amelia for bringing it to our attention and I am so glad that she did.

Perseverance, endurance, training and triumph - what great words and what great accomplishments - so what can we learn form all of this and through this amazing and thought provoking children's book?

I personally loved it - I loved reading it through the second and third time as well,  and the illustrations by Laura were magnificent and sort of said it all and enhanced the story greatly.

I would just like to share with you the very inspiration I personally took from the children's book - Those words of perseverance, endurance, training and triumph are all so important in our Christian walk with God. We certainly need perseverance and endurance to face the world out there, especially in today's world where Christianity is scorned, mocked and ridiculed as old-fashioned and useless.

In Romans 8 Paul talks about the feelings of perseverance and endurance when he describes the world as a pre-season workout.

We will have, and continue to endure, all kinds of pain, suffering, exhaustion and yes! even misery. But it's not for nothing.

Not only does God use our pain as a tool to make us stronger in our faith and character, but he also promises that our endurance will pay off.

Just like our Cow heroine, we will need perseverance and endurance to fight the good fight and to be victorious in the end.

God will use all of these trials for our good and we will, one day, reap the benefits of our patience, endurance and faithfulness.

The cow in our story trained hard to become an expert JUMPER over the moon - she failed many times but hey! she kept on training.

You know, as a Christian we have to train hard to counteract satan as he tries so hard to pin us down, make us fail and then spit us out broken and believing that we are just too bad for God, that "He couldn't possibly love us because look what we did here and or look what we said there."

We can't just keep on 'training'ourselves. We just can't do it by ourselves - many have tried to pull themselves up by their boot laces, and failed miserably - It is only when we become increasingly aware of the areas in our own personal struggles and start relying on God's strength and His alone that we can overcome.

In the end we will be triumphant IF we decide "enough is enough" and stop thinking that "we can do it." Unfortunately many of us Christians still think we can do it on our own and it's in those times when satan will target us because it's obvious he has had success there so why wouldn't he keep on keeping on?

It's a never ending cycle of trying so hard not to fall into the ditch of failure when all we really need to do is to believe that our God, our Saviour, who died for us, is way bigger than all of these 'ditches' that we keep falling into.

To break the cycle of continuing sin, we need to realise that we just can't do it by ourselves - what we have done in the past isn't working. Satan knows we will fail so he keeps on flaunting it at us.

I was told a story once of a guy, when he was off to work in the morning, fell down a ditch. He dusted himself off, climbed out and went on his way.

The next day, he went past the ditch, looked at it and would you believe it, he fell in again. Once more he clambered out, dusted himself off and went to work.

The next day, he walked around the ditch, and thought to himself  AHA I did it, patted himself on the back and promptly fell into the ditch.

The next day he went past the ditch, looked back over his shoulder, chuckled to himself, fell into a hole and ended up in the ditch.

Finally, the next day he walked on the other side of the street. What did he learn? That He couldn't do it.

Many of us, lose our triumph because we really do believe we can overcome the wiles and temptations of satan on our own - believe me we can't! Change your strategy, God is so much bigger than your stumbles.

God will give us the victory and the triumph, if we choose to believe that he can. But, if we choose to believe that we can rely on our own strength, then we will like that guy in our story keep falling into the ditch.

John 15:5 says:- "We can do nothing apart from God"

So when you have your own moon the jump over, you will only achieve success, when we truly believe that God is our strength and he is our mainstay. Through Him and Him alone will we have success. We can't rely on our own strength - there are far too many ditches out there.

God bless you this week as you hand your 'ditch falling' and 'moon jumping' over to your Creator God - the only one who is far far bigger than any addiction and continuing sin in our lives.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Letter

The letter arrived quite unexpectedly and Alex wished with all of his being that he hadn't opened it at all because then he wouldn't have known exactly what had caused it.

Could he have lived with himself then? A question he often asked himself over the years and even today he still balks at.

Cindy was all he ever wanted - Cindy was his world - then Why?

It took only a split second on her part to decide exactly what to do and the reasoning behind her decision was in her mind quite plain, yet I suppose, if she had had time to think about it and maybe just put it off for another couple of days, then maybe just maybe the decision would have taken another and different path altogether.

They started out as normal as any other young couple - just enjoying each others company ~ a harmless and enjoyable time for both of them - Cindy enjoyed Alex's company and relished each moment spent in his care and indulgences. Alex on the other hand enjoyed having this pretty young thing paying him so much attention. He wasn't sure of these mixed up feelings and messages he was getting, but just loved the attention.

And so it went on ~ their relationship grew more and more serious as the weeks went by - well it did for Cindy. In her mind there appeared to be problems and to her this meant that this amazing relationship she had with Alex wasn't going anywhere and she craved and wanted it to so much.

They seemingly adored each other and they got along great but it seemed to Cindy that Alex wanted a little more freedom, not necessarily to see anyone else, but just to be able to 'do his own thing' and not to be accountable to her alone.

She honestly believed that if he loved her deeply and truly then he would be content just to be with her, giving himself only and fully to her choosing to be with her over any other option. After all isn't that what other people do when they care deeply for each other.

That little doubt grew in her mind and became a stumbling block in their relationship no matter how hard she tried to just put it off her mind. Alex, on the other hand, wondered what had happened to their idyllic times because previously they were seemingly so happy.

Then the letter!

Cindy had dropped the letter off late one evening and then gone home and taken her own life.

The letter explained to Alex that she felt she couldn't leave but then she couldn't stay. She realised that he needed his own freedom, that she felt alone in the world and that no-one really understood her at all. She felt that Alex would be so much better off if she were dead because she loved him so much she didn't want to be a burden to him at all.

Of course the news of her death by suicide spread quickly. Alex was devastated and to add to his devastation all eyes seemed to be fixed on him as the culprit/reason for this tragedy.

This story is so so sad yet indicative to just some of the guilt many many people carry around with them on a daily basis often moment by moment. Perhaps you know of similar stories and incidences in your own life and can relate to this one so well.

Guilt is THE ONE emotion that, almost all of the survivors of suicide will tell you, becomes THE greatest obstacle to overcome. WHY? Because often there is nowhere to turn. You can FEEL the guilt, you can, like Alex, often be BLAMED for the events that happened even though these accusations are completely false.

Like Alex, you are NOT to blame, regardless of the individual circumstances that lead to the tragedy in the first place.  You are human after all, and cannot be blamed for anyone else's actions, regardless of how much you may love them and want to protect them.

The real truth of the matter is that no one is to blame except the victims themselves. This in itself is tough to acknowledge, so we do the reverse and blame ourselves which in the long run is often easier to cope with.

No one really copes with the suicide of a loved one well. Obviously we are faced with anger, guilt and myriad of other emotions all battling with each other in our own minds.

Even being able to move forward in your life after a loved one has committed suicide is fraught with guilt. It often feels like we are letting that person down if we dare have the audacity to laugh or feel comfortable in other people's company. So we are stuck in the middle of nowhere unable to re-do the past and yet unable to move to the future.

Living here on earth is a fabulous and often amazing if sometimes mysterious gift from God. A real gift is what it is, bestowed upon us by a loving and giving God and we should savour every second of it regardless of what happens in our life and what tragedies thrust themselves onto us.

Unfortunately as Christians we are not exempt when it comes to loved ones committing suicide, but what we can do is to hang onto the truths in the Bible which promises that NOTHING can separate true Christians from the love of God in Christ our Lord (Romans 8: 38-39). That being said we also have to realise that the victim must have been in a terrible and distressing place to even contemplate such a disastrous move.

It is certainly not our right to take life. It is God alone who makes such decisions and only His prerogative.

NOTHING is more powerful that the saving grace of Jesus and that includes suicide. In my opinion God will not reject anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

Grieving for a victim will take it's own due course - many will come to terms with it far quicker than others.

Giving ourselves completely over to a loving and caring God, in my view, is the ONLY answer to coming to real terms with guilt and grief attached to the gaping hole of tragedy brought on by the suicide of a loved one.

You know, having faith in God does not require an amazing amount of self-control or exemplary intelligence and, in my opinion, faith in God is THE only answer to the burden of guilt you may be carrying around with you because of the suicide of a loved one.

Faith and the grace of God is a free gift and all we have to do is to accept that gift and rest on the promises of God alone to do the rest.

Sure, we will still often be on an emotional roller coaster and have extraordinarily bad days BUT we can rest assured on the saving grace and mercy of God to eradicate the guilt and burden of sin that we find so very hard to cope with.

I love how the Message puts it in Psalm 55:22
"Pile your troubles on God's shoulders - He'll carry your load. He'll help you out. He'll never let good people topple into ruin"

Yes, we can throw our burdens, whatever they may be, on the shoulders of God and he will carry them for us - he can rid our lives of the crippling emotional burdens of grief and guilt.

Let's just own up to and name our guilt or grief, recognise it for what it is, hand it over not worrying too much as to how the world will label it and just rest in the God who saves. After all it is he and he alone who can remove our guilt to enable us to press on with Him.

If you know of anyone suffering from such a family tragedy or even someone contemplating suicide I would suggest you may get some help through This is a ministry through social media/Twitter.

On the 1st Monday of each month there is a prayer hour for victims and families dealing with depression and Suicide. The USA times are 4.00 pm PST and 7.00 pm EST and in Australia 9.00am AEST Tuesdays. Use the hashtag #GodsPrayerRoom

Any resemblance to persons alive or dead in this blog is purely coincidental and unintentional. The names of the above have been altered to protect identification.