Mission Statement

In classical sacrifices, the people get the good bits, and the gods get the refuse, the bits that would get thrown out otherwise.

Not our God. Leviticus (particularly Leviticus 3) describes the sacrifices that our LORD demanded from His people of Israel. God gets the kidneys, the tail, and all the fat. He gets the prime steak, He gets the best.

Today we do not literally give sacrifices of animals. For us the ultimate sacrifice has been made through our Lord, Christ Jesus. But should always be our ambition to do the same thing - to offer God the best of what we have, to offer Him the fat, and not the smoke and bones.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Continue in Prayer

Please pray for me. I am back safely, but had a serious allergic reaction in Doha airport, which had me vommitting and in a wheelchair.

I am walking, and functioning okay, but I am having on-going problems with nausea and am not able to eat much at any time.

Please continue to pray for me and my health.

Incidentally, my health was perfect in Uganda.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Safe In Uganda

Hi All, I have arrived safely in Uganda. I'm having a bit of trouble getting on my email, but hopefully I will be able to soon, and I will be able to give you all some updates. But for now, just know that I am safe and doing well.

Please continue to pray for me.

Sam

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Happy

I’ve been reading the Phillips translation of the New Testament recently, and am really enjoying it. It’s in some ways more of a paraphrase than a translation (it certainly isn’t as literal as the ESV, or even the NIV) but it’s a whole lot better than the Message, and I’m enjoying reading Scripture in a new light.

One verse that really stood out to me recently was Matthew 5:5 (the Phillips version is not broken into verses though): “Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them.”

You know, especially as Western Christians, we claim a lot. Not just from God, but from each other, from places where we buy things, in every area of our lives. We pay money and we expect good food. We pay money and we expect good service. We expect the things we buy to be in good working condition, and if they aren’t as they should be, we expect a discount.

We all put too much stock in man, what he does, what he can give us.

What if we only expected from God? What if He were the one we were claiming from?

Would we not be inheriting the earth?

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Marriage

Recently Barack Obama came out with his official support of gay marriage. Which of course brought up a whole lot of discussion from a lot of different people about whether or not there should be gay marriage, what kind of restrictions there should be, and that sort of thing.

One of the boys at my church was listening to a talk-back radio program where the host was in favour of homosexual marriage. Lots of people phoned in over the course of the program with their opinions, and apparently, most were against. (I did not hear the program, I'm only repeating what my friend said).

The host then asked them if they had anything against gays living in de facto relationships. Most people then said no. The host then said that if they didn't have a problem with de factos they shouldn't have a problem with them getting married.

My friend agrees with this statement, and thinks that we should have higher standards than just being against gay marriage.

The thing is, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE. If there wasn't a difference, then gays would not be fighting for them to have this "right". There is a difference in the way that you view your relationship, in the way that others view the relationship, in the way that the government taxes you, in the way that banks treat you.

There is a difference between marriage and de facto. Regardless of the genders of the people involved in it.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Matthew 24

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming (verse 42)

The church is obsessed with the end times, trying to work out exactly when they will be, exactly what will happen. But that isn’t what is required of us. Staying faithful is.

The end of days will come “like a thief in the night”. Most will not be expecting Him. Most will be idling away their lives in frivolous pursuits of the temporal. And unfortunately, much of the professing church is amongst that group.

I do not want to be. I want to be awake and serving my Lord when He comes. I want to be proclaiming the gospel – and more than that, I want to be living it.

I have so much progress to make with my life, so much more that I want to do for the Lord, so many sins to overcome, so much work to do. With His help I will do it! I will be ready for the return of my Lord!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Matthew 11

Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds (from verse 19)

This comes at the end of a phrase where Jesus pointed out that the religious leaders were not satisfied by either John’s fasting or by Jesus’ eating. No matter what either of them did, because it was not part of the establishment, it wasn’t good enough.

This is a big issue today. Christians cannot do anything right in the eyes of unbelievers. Those who focus on their families and the church are ridiculed and held up as being selfish, insular, and not reaching out to the community. Those who are involved with outreach activities like evangelism, or in “good works” type activities like missions, or volunteering at homeless shelters or pregnancy centres are also ridiculed as being those who are trying to coerce those around them into being Christians by their good deeds. Missions comes under special attack for this.

It is easy to get discouraged here. We can’t do anything right in the eyes of the world. But the thing is… we are not meant to! We are only to focus on doing right in the eyes of Christ. Wisdom, godly wisdom, will ultimately show up in our actions – in families and churches that are strong, in deeds that make a real difference both in people’s lives and in people’s eternities. And that is what we need to remember.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Matthew 5

And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: (verse 2)

I’ve never really noticed this verse before. It isn’t a hugely noticeable verse. It is just a preface to one of Jesus’ most famous teachings, the Beatitudes.

But today God brought to my attention the very important phrase, “He opened His mouth and taught them”.

We don’t like to speak about God much. In this day and age it is embarrassing. It marks you as being among the religious freaks of the world. And teaching people about God – especially unbelievers – is just plain hard. So often it is easier to just keep our mouths shut.

But that is not what God wants us to do. He wants us to OPEN our mouths and TEACH those around us. It is hard, but it is worthwhile.

Today I had the opportunity to explain to a colleague that there are answers to the common ‘scientific’ queries people make. She’s never had a Christian answer them before. And while it wasn’t much, it was sowing a seed. It was opening my mouth and teaching.

LORD, give me more opportunities like this!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Matthew 4

Immediately they left their nets and followed him (verse 20).

These four men (Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John) were all willing to walk away from absolutely everything they had the moment that Jesus called them. They did not wait or deliberate, but walked after Jesus, leaving behind family and career without a backward glance.

How willing am I to do the same? God has called me to Uganda. If He said for me to go tomorrow, would I go, or would I um and uh over the things I’m leaving behind, leaving undone? Surely God can use me more effectively if I have finished me education… etc. But the fact is that I need to be WILLING to drop everything at a moments notice in order to follow my Jesus.

I am far too attached to this world. I cling to my own comforts, to my own status, to my own finances. But they are not my own. They belong to my God, to my Saviour Jesus. And I need to be ready to drop them if He asks me to.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Putting my money where my mouth is

Recently I went to a “One Just World” conference, on the position of children internationally, and what we can do to support children, whether in Australia or internationally. I learnt a whole lot of interesting things:
• 115 million children are involved in the worst types of child labour.
• 79 million children have had female circumcision
• 100 children a day are reported to be abused or neglected in Australia

Pretty appalling, right? We often know that life for those in less fortunate countries is pretty terrible, but we don’t usually realise how terrible it is for so many people, and especially so many children. In the developed world we’re kind of sheltered from that, and we expect that the rest of the world has our views on keeping children safe etc. And while parents everywhere generally want what is best for their family, they face enough hardship and difficulty that what is “best” is quite frankly, unacceptable. Selling a child to prostitution so that your family can live is unacceptable. Child indentured servitude is unacceptable. Mutilating children so that they can make more money begging is unacceptable.

As many of you realise, I’m fundraising for my next trip to Uganda. I’m really excited about it, but the flights are $600 more than last time, and there will be other costs as well. While I work and have savings, I want to move to Uganda in the near future, so I’m hoping to fundraise all I can.

Last year, one of my most successful fundraisers was chocolates. I bought chocolates from the supermarket for $1 or less (mostly Cadbury and Nestle) and sold them for $2. It was low effort on my part, and raised around $200.

At this conference I found out about child slave labour on chocolate farms, and that it is ranked as one of the worst forms of child labour, along with things like child prostitution. A whole lot of children die making chocolate. And Cadbury, Nestle, Ferrero and Mars all band together to report only their combined statistics on their chocolate. This means that every company claims to be doing less wrong than their competitors, and there is no way of checking who is actually doing what, and buying only from the one or two companies who are aiming to change this.

So I’m not buying any chocolates from them. Not until they change this. It will mean that I won’t make as much money. It will mean that I need to put in a lot more efforts into raising the money. But I’m putting my money where my mouth is, and I’m going what I believe is right.

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?”
Isaiah 58:6


A note - I wrote this and then didn't post this for a while. I was a bit worried that my stance would effect my fundraising efforts - but I have raised FAR more this trip than I did with the last trip! Doing what God says is right is ALWAYS the best way to do things!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

John 4

My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work (verse 34).

Doing God’s will meant more to Jesus than food. Think of how essential food is to us. We waste away and die without it – slowly and painfully. Yet Jesus preferred to do God’s will, God’s work.

How important is doing God’s work to me? It is easy to put off what God wants us to do until another day, then another day, then another and another until it remains undone. I know I have done this so many times. Little things crop up, and I take care of one and then another, and then another, and then it is too late to work on what God has set before me – too late for memorisation work or quiet time or extended prayer or even the bigger projects God has set before me, like the books He wants me to write.

I need to be willing to sacrifice everything in order to do God’s work – my plans, my goals, my dreams, to even be willing to give up necessities such as food. Because the truth is, the only thing we truly need is God. And I have that!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

John 3

The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand (verse 35).

All things are in my God’s control. The big things and the little things, things I like and things I don’t.

I am reminded of the martyred death of Lady Jane Grey, and the ascension to the throne of the Catholic queen Mary. It must have seemed like an utter defeat for the protestants. But Mary’s bloody reign meant that England became protestant. Even God’s enemies do God’s will.

How do I react to this fact in my own life? Do I trust in Him, committing all things into His hands? Or do I worry, gripe and whine, thinking that things are getting out of control? In all honesty, it is a bit of both, but I am learning to trust in God and His providence more and more each day. And I have no doubt that God will continue to teach me in this area, for He not only holds all things in His hands, but He does all things for the sake of His children, including me!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tithing

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
Malachi 3:10

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are onebody, so it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12: 12

We were recently discussing tithing in my small group. There are a whole range of opinions about tithing in the church, from those who believe it is no longer something God wants or requires, to those who do. Then there are those who want to publish who tithes (and therefore, presumably who doesn’t), and those who tithe to charity rather than a church, and those who give a “double tithe” of 20% rather than 10%.

One thing that my friend Kallie noticed in the discussions about tithing is that the verse from Malachi is usually brought up. If you tithe, God will bless you. And if you don’t tithe, then… well… you get what God gives you. But don’t be surprised if it’s a pocket full of holes.

This then can become either superstitious, or form an entitlement mentality. We gave, now God had better give us something good in return. And this is not the way God works! We deserve nothing but wrath from Him, and He gives us so many wonderful things, all by grace!

But God does exactly what His Word says. And tithing is no exception. God will pour out His blessings on those who tithe.

But as we the church are one body, that blessing might not be seen with our physical eyes. The tithe I give may pour out a blessing on a widow in India, who comes to know the LORD. Or it might be poured out on an orphan in Uganda, who receives physical and spiritual food from Christians serving where he is. Or it might be for a pastor in Russia, who has been toiling for years without breakthrough, or to the backslider in Europe who renews his relationship with God.

God has nothing but good gifts for His children. And when we are obedient, the blessings become even more abundant. And one day, when we see Him face to face, we will know what all those blessings were, and what part of our body saw them in the physical.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

John 2

Zeal for your house will consume me (from verse 17)

Jesus was passionate about His Father’s name, and for His Holy House, His Temple. Jesus was so passionate He took action – decisive action. Jesus did not whine about it, He did not pander to the leaders – He did something, and it restored glory to God’s House.

Am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to act on what I know is wrong in God’s House? Or do I prefer to whine about it? I know the answer – and unfortunately it isn’t the flattering one.

I need to be consumed with zeal for God and His House. I need to make that my primary mission. It requires some massive dying to self, some massive taking up of my cross in order to follow Jesus. I need to fix my eyes firmly on Him, and on Him alone.

It is hard. Sometimes it is terribly hard. But it is worthwhile – amazingly, abundantly worthwhile.

God’s ways always are.

Friday, 11 May 2012

John 1

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. (From verse 29)

How much do I believe that Jesus takes away the sin of the world? Seriously, how much?

If we believe, it will come out in our actions. It is inevitable. Yet I care so little for the lost, especially those in far off countries. I pray only a little for them. I give little to those who are reaching out to them. And my own preparations to move out to the mission field move slowly, at least in part because of a lack of fiery effort on my own part.

There are so many things waiting to distract us. But if we truly believe what God has said then we will not become distracted. We will reach for the goal with all our efforts, with all our hearts, as part of our service to the Lamb who saved us from sin.

I want to give my life to Him, to making His name known, to making His name great. There is no cause greater, no one greater.

So the question is – how much do I believe? Enough to act? I pray so.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Colossians 4

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Verse 2)

Prayer is such a bedrock of the Christian faith. It is how we communicate with God, how we give thanks, how we tell God our needs and receive His direction for our lives.

Yet how little we as Christians pray! How little I pray! If I were to continue merely as I do now, how terribly little I would manage to achieve.

Paul assumes prayer as the starting point for all Christians. And it is something that I am so far behind in, and something that I am tempted to cover up my failures of by comparing myself to others, especially those who God has not blessed as much as He has me. It is an unfair comparison – it causes me to look down on them as “lesser” for what God has chosen to give them; and it builds pride in my heart for something that was merely His gift to me. I need to focus on my own state before God, not that of my peers.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fundraising

Those of you who read here will probably be aware that I am planning on going to Uganda in order to do missions there - particularly with children who have been affected by the HIV crisis. I went on a mission trip with COME Uganda last year in November, and this year, in June, I am going to visit Bushikori, where I have 3 sponsor children. I am really excited in general, but especially about meeting them!

Unfortunately, travelling to Africa is not exactly cheap. My church is mostly made up of international students, but they were pretty appalled by the cost, because it's a LOT more than it costs them to travel back to Singapore or Malaysia etc. With this being my second trip, money was beginning to get a bit tighter, especially as I am hoping to go again in November before looking to move there next in 2013 or 2014. While I work, I was beginning to be concerned about the costs involved, especially as I am also studying this year. I hoped that fundraising would cover enough for me to go on the November trip.

At the beginning, fundraising was really hard. I didn't raise much money, though every bit was welcome. I was working really hard to make every bit I could, mostly by making and selling paintings. A few people gave me small donations.

Last Sunday but one, one of my friends came up to me and handed me $200, from his parents, who have never met me! I was so amazed, and really thanked God for this. But God was not done!

Last Sunday, I was given a few smaller donations and two envelopes and a red packet. I assumed that all three were small donations and a letter (which is what I've mostly gotten before). But the red packet contained a letter and a cheque for... $1000 from a member of my church who wishes to be anonymous, and one of the envelopes contained $800 in cash from a young couple in my church!

I have now covered the airfare and most of the costs invovled with my trip, which means that I do not need to worry so much about being able to afford a trip in November, and can concerntrate on preparing myself to better serve the children I will be working with.

Faithful God!

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Widow’s Mite

I was re-reading this passage recently, and it really struck me.

The widow gave less than the wealthy, but she gave ALL SHE HAD. Every cent she had, she gave to God. That represented her every security, as she probably didn’t have an income (even a small one), or much food in the cupboard. Those few copper coins were literally her whole life.

In contrast, the rich gave merely a small amount of their money. They had money left over. They had resources left over. They had food, and connections, and all that they needed left over, held back from God.

We need to be giving to God our whole lives, not merely a small portion of our largesse. This doesn’t just mean money, though money certainly is a big part of it (big savings account your security anyone?) Are you willing to give up your job for Jesus? Your friends for Jesus?Your family for Jesus?You country for Jesus?

Or are you just throwing in out of your riches?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Colossians 1

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me (verse 29).

Paul toils – works hard, suffering all the while. He toils, but not in his own strength. No! He toils with the strength and energy that Christ works in him.

I am so prone to working in my own strength, to putting in immense efforts only to wear myself down with all that still remains to be done. I have much reading to do. I need to study. I need to learn Luganda. I have more funds to raise. There is oh so much that awaits my attentions and efforts, and the to-do pile rarely seems to get smaller.

But Christ! How He lifts me up when I let Him! He reminds me that there is only one important thing – loving Him – and that I do not need to worry, but just trust and let Him take care of the details. He is the one who works, in me and through me and through all the circumstances I go through. All I need to do is rest joyfully in Him.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Hudson Taylor

There is a needs-be for us to give ourselves for the life of the world. And easy, non-self-denying life will never be one of power. Fruit-bearing involves cross-bearing. There are not two Christs – an easy-going one for the easy-going Christians, and a suffering, toiling one for exceptional believers. There is only one Christ. Are you willing to abide in HIM, and thus to bear much fruit?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Philippians 4

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (verse 8)

What do I spend my time thinking about? It is good things, or things that are far from good? And what direction am I moving my thoughts in? Am I heading towards greater purity of thought, or the other way?

My thoughts are not good! I spend time worrying, thinking about gossip, thinking about how people have annoyed me, thinking lustful thoughts or greedy thoughts. It is easy to look at my thoughts and feel appalled. And while that is certainly a valid reaction, it does not capture the massive changes in my thought life that Christ has already wrought and is continuing to do. He is slowly replacing my bad thoughts with His noble one. It is a slow process – my sinful flesh is quick to resist but slow to obey – but it is happening. To God be the glory!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Carolyn Mahaney

Our conduct has a direct influence on how people think about the gospel. The world doesn’t judge us by our theology; the world judges us by our behaviour. People don’t necessarily want to know what we believe about the Bible. They want to see if what we believe makes a difference in our lives.

From her book, Feminine Appeal.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Modern Day Levites

Sorry about the general lack of posting. There have been so many other things that have taken up my time at the moment – work, uni, church (I completed one of my 2012 goals – to start the praying for the nations prayer night), reading, and most importantly, reading the Word of God! As some of you will remember, I had the goal to read through the whole Bible over Lent.

One of the things that struck me in the Old Testament was the portion of the Levites. If you’ve read the New Testament, you will know that we are as Levites to the Lord. So what the Old Testament says about the Levites, the Priesthood, and the nation of Israel generally has a lot of relevance to us today.

The Levites were not given a portion of land in the nation of Israel. All the other tribes had land, but aside from a few towns where people who accidentally killed someone could go, the Levites got nothing.

Nothing material, that is. Their portion was the LORD. And He is worth more than any amount of land, of money, or anything like that.

And I wondered, what if the Levites said no? What if they were like, Thanks God, but we’d rather have some of the really good farmland near the Negev. We want a blessing that we can see, and can touch.

The thing is, so many of us Christians do the exact same thing today! We have the spiritual blessing – but we are so keen to chase after the material blessing. Think of all the prayers you’ve prayed recently. How many of them were for physical blessings for yourself? Yes, we should pray for our physical needs, and even things that we just want, BUT if that’s the main thing we’re praying for, then we have traded our spiritual portion for a material one.

That’s not what I want. I want to choose the spiritual blessing! I want my portion to be the LORD!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Saunders Family



Visit their blog at:
http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Israel Prayer Points


• There has been a lot of on-going conflict within Israel, most publicly between the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. Pray that there be on-going peace between these two ethnic groups, and that there be a build-up of trust and compassion between them
• Many countries internationally, especially Muslim countries, refuse to recognise Israel as a state. This means that not only are there conflicts within Israel, but that they face threats from outside, including from the vast majority of the neighbouring countries.
• There is opposition even in Australia, especially in regards to “the fence”, which separates Israeli and Palestinian areas. There has been protests, including against Max Brenner (chocolate store) and L’Oreal (skin care brand), including some violence against Max Brenner employees. Pray that those opposed to the state of Israel will seek peaceful ways of expressing their concerns.
• 75% of Israel is Jewish. Of this percentage, 25% is Orthodox, 20% is secular, and the rest mostly fall between.
• Messianic Jews are the one religious group that is most likely to have difficulties registering places of worship. There are attempts by ultra-Orthodox Jews to put in place anti-conversion laws, and there has been some persecution of Messianic Jews.
• There has however been a considerable interest in the gospel by Jews. The numbers of Messianic Jews are estimated to be 12,000 in Israel, and over 100,000 world-wide (of 4.5 million Jewish people). Some continue to be Jewish, while others become integrated within gentile Christian churches.
• Currently there are legal restrictions for Messianic Jews to immigrate to Israel, as the law states that the national identity and religious identity of Israelis is the same. Secular Jews are allowed to become citizens, but Messianic Jews cannot
• Pray for the spirit to breathe new life into the nation of Israel. Ezekiel 37.
• In order for this to happen, the Jews need to see that what was done in the name of Christianity has not been what God wants. Pray that this will be seen by the Jews of Israel and the world, and that the will have an accurate witness of the love of Christ.
• Pray for a spiritual unity for all Christians. Ethnic tension can be high, even within the church of Christ, with some Jewish believers having big issues with Arab Christians and vice-versa. Pray that the Lord will bestow the blessing of peace upon the believers of this nation. (Ps 133)
• Pray that there be a boldness of witness for all Christians, especially Messianic Jews. While there is (mostly) tolerance, there is occasional violence, especially from the ultra-Orthodox and the Haredi, and evangelising is increasingly opposed and difficult.
• Pray that there be a understanding that becoming Christian does not mean that you are turning your back on your people.
• Pray also for Arab believers, especially Muslim-Background believers. Many are coming to Christ, but there is also a high emigration rate to the West.
• Pray for the work of missionaries, both Messianic and Protestant Christianity. Many have entered as tent-makers, and when their religious work comes to light, it can be difficult to get their Visas renewed.
• Many groups, especially Holocaust survivors and the Haredi, are living significantly below the poverty line. There is outreach to bless them and to reach them with the news of the gospel. Pray that this be effective, and that those who have suffered much and those who are extremely zealous for the faith of their fathers, would have their hearts softened to the gospel
• Many Jewish people worldwide are walking away from the faith of their fathers, and either moving towards secularism or other religions. There is much spiritual seeking from the Jewish youth. Pray that in this searching, God would speak out to them and bring the lost sheep of Israel back to Him.
• Pray for the work of Messianic groups worldwide, such as Jews for Jesus and Celebrate Messiah
• Pray that in the celebration of Passover, there be an awareness that Jesus is their Passover Lamb, slain for them.

What can you do?
• Pray!
• Reach out to Jewish people around you. Celebrate Messiah have had success with workers of the Dead Sea skin care company at Chadestone. There are lots of Jews around, especially at unis, and in the Caulfield, Malvern, and Elsternwick areas.
• Learn about the Old Testament! If you are speaking to Jews, they need to know that Jesus is the continuation and fulfilment of the faith of Abraham. If you haven’t got a clue about the Old Testament, you won’t be prepared to speak to them about this. Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 are great places to start, and to refer any Jewish people to.
• Write to your politicians, here and in your home country, saying that you support Israel, and that you oppose attempts to force it to go back to its pre-1967 borders.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

My Gotcha Day

This is the day, when six years ago, God got me! That's right, six years (2006) ago I accepted Christ!

Happy birthday to me!

Praise God who makes all things (even me!) new!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Sudan Prayer Points

Both
• South Sudan became a country on the 9th of July, 2011. Southern Sudan is predominately Christian, and Northern Sudan is predominately Muslim.
• There are currently between 40 000 and 100 000 Southern Sudanese held captive as slaves, mostly in the North.
• There have been ongoing small conflicts, with the North threatening to invade the South.
• There have been a lot of human rights violations, especially in relation to women
• There are over 70 000 street kids in the North alone. Numbers are not available for the South, but it is likely to be high due to the violence and HIV.
• Translation issues: there are 114 languages in Sudan. Only 10 have the whole Bible, and one has only just been completed. Pray for the missionaries who are involved in the laborious task of reducing a language to writing and then translating the Bible into that language.
North
• Northern Sudan has been terrorizing the people of the Nuba Mountains, one of the predominately Christian areas in North Sudan.
• Prevention by the Northern government of air to go to unapproved areas, meaning that international aid is used as a weapon of war, starving out people who the government does not approve of.
• The North is under Shiara law, which means a lot of restrictions on certain people groups, especially Christians and women.
• Witness in the North has been predominantly killed. There are still some Coptic Christians, and the Nuba mountains. Pray strength and continued witness for these people.

South
• In the South there is a lack of basic infrastructure and a reliance on oil. The North is currently demanding a levy of $32 per barrel – with the result that South is refusing to produce. There is the possibility of moving it via Kenya or Ethiopia, as their governments are supportive of the South.
• They are having a lot of issues in rebuilding the country. Pray wisdom as they do this, pretty much from scratch.
• The LRA is operating in Southern Sudan.
• Water for wells – many people are without clean water. Water for wells and other programs aims to provide wells and other clean water sources for these people. Pray success, that the wells will be replenished and not overdrawn, and that there be a minimum amount of waterborne diseases
• Unity for the church. With the struggle to exist under the Islamic Northern government, the church has been highly unified. Without this struggle, there has been some discord. Pray against this.
• Pray that there will be a determination to witness, including to their Northern neighbors. There is a lot of bitterness there, but pray that this never gets in the way of their gospel witness.

Things You Can Do:
Persecution Project has a petition to the UN
• Write to the UN – our representatives, their representatives, and other representatives. China, for example, has consistently overlooked the human rights abuses of the North because of the oil they were exporting (from the South). Let these countries know that things such as human rights abuses, including the imprisonment of people for religious beliefs, are not acceptable to the international community
Click to Give has a petition up: Beyond Kony, petitioning the US government and other governments to provide ongoing support to the areas affected by Joseph Kony (the LRA)


Our next session is on Israel on Monday the 2nd of April.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Women of the English Reformation

All these women (Anne Bolyen, Anne Askew, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey, Catherine Willoughby) thought theologically. They were lay theologians. They read theological books, most especially the Bible, and anything to which they could gain access from the continental Protestant Reformers. They talked theology. Their inner circles of court ladies were twenty-four-hours-a-day Bible studies. They saw everything that happened to them through two lenses: the lens of the providence of God and the lens of the furtherance of the Reformed Religion… Each of these women… lived for one thing: to see the Reformed Religion overcome the opposition to it both within the church and outside it. They ached to see the Reformation triumph. They were not only observers of this high drama, they were participants.

From Five Women of the English Reformation, by Paul F.M. Zahl

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Seven Texts on Evangelism

Tim Challies posted this helpful piece, Seven Texts on Evangelism. Following are the seven texts:

1. There is work to be done
Matthew 9:37-38
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

2. Jesus has commanded you to do it
Matthew 28:18-20
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3. Success is guaranteed
John 10:16
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

4. Jesus is the only salvation
John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

5. You were given the Holy Spirit for this purpose
Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

6. People won’t be saved without hearing
Romans 10:11-15
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

7. Evangelism is necessary for your own growth in Christ
Philemon 6
And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.

HT: Scott Brown in this post.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Baptism Testimony

I have been going through some of my old stuff, and found my baptism testimony. I thought I'd share it here.

I cam to Christ in early April this year (2006). I was reading the newspaper and was asked to participate in a survey on religious life on campus. I nearly sent them away - after all, it was my lunch break, and I wanted to read my paper. But something stopped me. I know now that that something was God. We,, I completed the survey and allowed my name and email address to be recorded. God was truly at work in my life that day. One of the two girls went to primary school with me, and clearly remembered both me and my sister (who was in the same grade as her). Well, Sonali invited me to go to church with her. I did, and soon realised the truth about God's love and the death of His Son, Jesus, so that we could be in a relationship with God.

Like the Gentiles in Acts, I was baptised in the Holy Spirit before I was water batized. My Holy Spirit baptism happened at the Alpha campt. I can honestly say that this was the most amazing experience of my life - that first feeling of the amazing, utterly incomprehenisble love that God has for me, and for all of us.

I only decided to get baptised by water last night - and indeed, if I had been asked on Sunday I would have said that I wasn't ready yet. To me baptism is about turning away from our sins, having them washed from us, in a symbolic union of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There were some sins I just didn't think that I could turn away from, and I felt that it would be hypocritical to be baptised and then go right back to my old sins, and to intend that right through the baptism.

The sin that I was think of is through God's work, no longer a part of my life. It has long been a matter for prayer, and while it didn't work out the way I wanted it to, I can clearly see God's hand in it, and I know that it will work out for the best. Afteer all, Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

I do not expect my life now I have been water baptised to be perfect, or for me to live a life free from sin. The only person without sin is Jesus. But I have made the decision to turn away from sin, and to me that makes a huge difference.

Bu being baptized I proclaim to all of you that I believe in Jesus Christ and wish to follow Him all the days of my life, however long or short they may be. I show myself willing to follow His example, and to do as He commanded us. I know I will fall short of the glory of our Saviour, but by living under His wing I know that I can meet all the challenges of my life with the strength that He gives me, and not just my own strength.

Thank you all for being a part of this wonderful ceremony.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Points from Praying for the Nations - Iran

I want to thank those who came to the first praying for the nations night! Our next one is on the 19th of March. I have included details of the prayer points so that those who were unable to attend can uphold this country in prayer

Iran is a predominantly Muslim nation. Islam makes up between 98-99% of the population. The government is theocratic, and is rather totalitarian.

Prayer Points
1. There is a lot of discrimination against the Armenian and Chaldeans, the two main ethnically Christian groups, with the result that many leave the country. Pray that these Armenians will find ways to provide for their families whilst remaining in Iran as a witness. These people are treated as second class citizens, unable to fully participate in the activities of their country. However, they are not likely to be killed by the government for Christian activity, as they are considered ethnically Christian.
2. Muslim Background Believers – they face a lot of persecution, from family and from the government. Adult males can be sentenced to death for apostasy (i.e. conversion from Islam). Pray for comfort and strength in difficult times, and for a strength of witness
3. Pray for three specific prisoners
a. Ps Youcef Nadarkhani – under death sentence. I have previously sent out an email about his situation
b. Ps Behnam Irani – serving a 5 year sentence, is in poor health, and guards have been ordered to beat him regularly
c. Ps Mehdi Foroutan – sentenced to 1 year in prison & has been transferred to an area catering mainly recovering drug addicts. Pray he is able to witness powerfully to those he come into contact with
4. Many Muslim Background Believers & those who work with them who are released from prison are martyred by extremist groups. Please pray for the families and congregations of:
a. Rev Haik Hovsepian Mehr (an Armenian, who testified in Ps Mehdi Dibaj’s trial for apostasy)
b. Ps Mehdi Dibaj (who was imprisoned for apostasy, released, and was later martyed)
5. Pray that all the persecution bear much fruit for Christ. That the blood of the martyrs would indeed be the seed of the Iranian church
6. For the witness of media – radio, TV, internet
7. For the translation of the Scriptures into minority languages

Other Ways You can Help
Sign the petition for Youcef Nadarkhani
• Write to the 3 prisoners (details available through Voice of the Martyrs)
• Petition our government (and / or the government of your home country) to take action to force Iran to uphold human rights
• Buy a Voice of the Martyrs Farsi-English Testament ($22)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Beautiful

Manhood from Hazardous Journeys on Vimeo.


All the videos in this set are beautiful (very visually stunning, and have a wonderful messege) but this one is stunning.

It is the third, so watch all three!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Hudson Taylor

It does not matter, really, how great the pressure is; it only matters WHERE THE PRESSURE LIES. See that it never comes BETWEEN you and the Lord – then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to His breast.”
From Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Philippians 3

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (verse 12)

No Christian will be perfect this side of heaven. We are all inherently sinful, sinning regularly through both omission and commission. Paul, one of the most effective Christians of all time, canonised as a saint in the Roman Catholic church and writer of much of the New Testament, fully admits to this. He knows that he is far from perfection.

Yet he still presses on towards greater godliness. He does this not in spite of the grace that God has shown him through Christ, but rather BECAUSE of it.

This is the reaction that we need to have. We should be eternally grateful (and grateful in the here-and-now) for the grace of God through Christ, and this gratefulness should be manifesting itself through a changed life, through a greater seeking after godliness.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Memorial Box Monday

Last year, I hurt my back at work. I work in childcare, so it’s a fairly common thing to happen. And while it is mostly better, sometimes it can get really sore.

Well, Monday I woke up and my back was really sore. As in, it hurts to BREATHE sore. Tuesday came, and my back was still sore. I’m trying to pray more specifically, so I prayed that night that I would wake up the next morning and my back would be better – and not just better, but so completely fine that I wouldn’t even realise that it was better until later.

I woke up, and didn’t even notice that my back was fine, until someone else at work complained about their back! That was around lunchtime, so over 5 hours after waking before I even noticed! That’s how much better my back was!

Praise God!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Philippians 1

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment (verse 9).

As Christians, we are to love. It is the sign that we are Christians – His new commandment (John 13:34). And our love is to grow from day to day. It will not stay static, just as we will not stay static, but will grow as we grow in Christ. We will go from loving those who are loveable, to loving those who are difficult, to eventually loving those who are unlovable by the world’s standards.

But it is not enough that our love increase. We need to be tempering our love with knowledge and discernment. Love in order to be effective needs to know the beloved’s needs, and it needs to be able to discern these real needs from the beloved’s wants and desires. Then we need to know the way we can best meet the needs of the beloved. Sometimes, this means ‘tough love’, not giving the beloved what they want if it is bad for them, and standing firm in this.

It is the love that God in Christ has for us.

And praise be to God, we get to – no, we are COMMANDED to – reflect a small measure of His love to the world around us.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

If We Are The Body

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

Jesus payed much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ

Jesus is the way

From the song If We Are the Body by Casting Crowns

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Ephesians 6

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one (verse 16)

We are told here to always react with faith, no matter what the circumstances are. That does not just mean in good circumstances – all means all! It is when we are able to look at our ‘bad’ circumstances – circumstances that are difficult for us, even impossible seeming – when we can look at these circumstances and know that God is for us, it is THEN that our faith grows.

I am not in an easy circumstance right now. Someone in my church has decided that I’m broken and need ‘fixing’ and is chancing me around to tell me that that she ‘understands’ and can ‘fix’ my problems. It’s incredibly frustrating, especially as in all her ‘understanding’ she hasn’t actually listened to a word I’ve said at any point. It’s hard to see how God is going to us this for god- for my good, for her good, or the good of the church – but ultimately He will. Faith knows it, and faith lives by it, even when we cannot see it.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Book Review: Green Leaf in Drought

This is the story of the escape of two of the last of the China Inland Mission’s missionaries, Arthur and Wilda Mathews, from Communist China, along with their young daughter, Lilah. (All three were in the last 5 to leave,Wilda and Lilah were allowed to leave before Arthur was.)

This was a great book to read – Isobel Kuhn, the author, was also a missionary with CIM, so she was really involved with praying for their safe exit. She also had access to them, their papers, and a knowledge of the culture that they were reaching and some of the different effects that the communist government had on the missionaries.

I think that the best thing about this book was the fact that their struggles were not minimised. The Mathews had a lot of struggles, and the temptation with many modern Christian books is to minimise the difficulties and maximise the triumphs. This book doesn’t do that – it’s very honest, and I really liked that. It’s important to know that the Christian life is not an endless sea of triumphs and contentment and ease, even (indeed, especially) for missionaries.

So this was a great book on missionaries in China and the CIM.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

We Are the Church

But what I sometimes think we forget is WE ARE THE CHURCH.

And often times we use the church as our excuse to not have to do what we are called as individuals to do.

We hide behind the title 'the church' and forget the church is made up of individual Christ followers who are all to do their own part.

Because after all, He is a personal God.

Personal to me- and personal to you.

While the church as a whole is powerful enough to knock out the orphan crisis- it's going to take all of us to do our part to make it happen- or it never will.

And yet all too often we sit and we wait...

For someone else to take care of the problem...

For someone else to give...

For someone else to serve...

For someone else to do something about it...

And we excuse ourselves of our individual responsibility.

When perhaps He was talking to us all along...

From this post at Building the Blocks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Review: Jesus: The Only Way to God

This is another book by one of my favourite authors, John Piper. This is a very short book, and probably one of Piper’s easier books to read. The full title really explains the whole premise of the book – Jesus: The Only Way to God: Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved?

Piper thoroughly explores the different aspects of belief about salvation, including looking at the Biblical evidences for the different point of views, and how these beliefs impact missions. He comes to the seemingly obvious, but incredibly important conclusion that we must both hear and accept the gospel in order to be saved.

This is an incredibly important message for most of the modern Western church, which sees tolerance as the ultimate good, and the exclusiveness of Christ as being harsh and unloving. A GREAT book. I’ve recommended it to a few other people, some of whom will be reviewing it shortly.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Bible in 40 Days

Most people think that you need to read the Bible in little pieces, a chapter or a verse here and there. This is good, if you do it regularly (as in every day), but it takes time. If you read only a chapter a day it will take you three years to read the whole Bible. In that time, you will have forgotten a lot of the details from the first bit of your reading.

You can read the Bible in less time than that! There are quite a few programs where you can read the Bible in a relatively short space of time. For Easter a few years ago, I made my own. Here it is.

40 days before Easter, I began reading the Bible. I read it in place of my usual books as well as for my Quiet Time. I read it as much as I could. Some days that was a lot of reading, some days it was less. By the end of the 40 days, I was in Hebrews. I finished a few days after Easter.

I really recommend that everyone do this on occasion. I was amazed at the things I picked up – similarities from the psalms to Isaiah and the other prophets stood out to me especially in that lot of reading. God’s plan for the nations and the poor also began to stand out to me at that reading.

Will you miss things? Yes, of course. But you will pick things up too! No matter what plan you have for reading or studying the Bible you will end up missing things. But you will pick more up the next time you read it, or the time after that. And God will make it all plain in heaven!

So sit down, pray for His Holy Spirit, and start reading!

This year, I am aiming to read the entire Bible during Lent (which starts tomorrow, on the 22nd of Feb!). Want to do this with me? I'll be sharing some of the things God teaches me!

Monday, 20 February 2012

My Heart for Missions

Recently a lot of people have been asking me about how I developed my heart for missions in general and Uganda in particular. I’m usually fairly evasive to them – if they ask about Uganda I’ll usually talk about the drastic need there, which is true, and they usually need to know. But it doesn’t explain how I became passionate about missions in the first place.

You see, I was never going to do missions. On my not serious blog I have a post a few years ago saying how you’d never get me going on a short term mission trip, let alone a long one. And I’ve now been to Uganda, and I’m preparing to go back again for another short term trip (at least one) this year, and then hoping to move there for several years. But that was not my plan.

I had it all figured out. I had a friend who was going to be a missionary, to PNG. She spent some of her childhood years there, she spoke the language, she was comfortable in its culture. She was going to be a missionary, and I was going to stay home and have lots and lots of babies. She would do her work for the faith, and I would do mine.

Then she went on a short term trip to PNG. And met a boy on the trip. Then she left our church, claiming that she never wanted to be a missionary anyway and our church was mean for trying to make her. Our friendship broke up (as did her friendship with several other people in our church). She has since married said boy, and now lives in the outer suburbs.

I remember when I realised (before she left our church) that she wasn’t going to be a missionary. That night I spent a lot of time praying about it. She was supposed to! That was what she had always wanted! And now God was down a missionary (not that He’s wringing His hands for them). I felt terrible. And after a long time of prayer, I told God that while I wouldn’t be anywhere near as useful as a missionary as this girl was, because I only spoke English and wasn’t culturally dexterous in any culture other than Australian / English, He could have me as a missionary, even to a really terrible place, like Africa. But if He wanted me to do it, all He had to do was change my heart to where He wanted me to go.

And He did that. I already had a big concern for the many children who were orphaned around the world (I just planned to adopt a few). But soon I was becoming passionately interested in one country, in the terrible Africa (about the last place I’d want to go in the natural sense), and the beautiful people there. And so I began to make plans to go.

I’m probably not going to be an especially awesome missionary. I’m not even an especially awesome Christian (listen to me talk if you don’t believe me!). But God isn’t looking for that. He wants someone willing. Someone willing to trade their dreams for His. And while sometimes I still want my own way, I am willing.

And so, I go.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Isaiah 58

3 'Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?' Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 "Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:3-7)


In most Christian traditions, fasting is done. Exactly how will vary from denomination to denomination. Now days, many churches fasting to be of things other than food – entertainment is a big one.

All these fasting can be true fasting, and they can be false fasting. False fasting is seeking to make God do what you want Him to, usually for yourself. It is selfish fasting, a fasting that ignores, even hurts, those around them during the fast – perhaps more in the fast than before.

How are you fasting? Is your fasting seeking to loose the bonds of wickedness? Is it seeking to do good to those around you, both with your prayer and your actions? Or is it all about you? Because God only acknowledges one as true fasting. Then when we call on Him He will answer, and He will guide us continually and satisfy our desire.

That’s what I want.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Ephesians 5

“making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (verse 16)

We are to redeem the time. We are not supposed to simply fill the time with ‘good Christian activities’. We are not to simply avoid spending our time on bad things or on time wasters. We are to make the BEST use we can of the time we have.

I know I do not do this. I fritter away a big chunk of my time on useless things – movies, card games on computer, and books that are not worth my time – and more goes on things that are really just marking time as I prepare to go to Uganda again.

This is not Biblical. I need to pray that I will be given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around me, and that I will take advantage of the opportunities that God sends. Then I need to act in faith, and DO SO.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Ephesians 4

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (verse 29)

Nowadays it is very easy to speak corruptingly. I know that I do, appallingly often. I swear, I gossip, I lie on occasion. And while I do not use the term ‘OMG’ – though many Christians around me do – I have been known to say things like Oh my goodness, which is still not acceptable. All of my speech is something I need to work on a great deal, given the importance of words in Scripture.

But the Biblical standard is not merely to avoid the bad; it is to actively practice the goo. It is not enough not to swear – I need to speak forth the Scriptures. It is not sufficient to refuse to gossip – I need to instead encourage those around me to follow Christ more closely. It is not enough to not say evil, I need to be exhorting myself and others to the Good.

I fall so far short that it horrifies me at times. To think – my Jesus died, DIED, for me, and I can barely stop saying cuss-words for Him. But He is changing me, making me over with His love, by His grace. I cannot speak rightly by my own strength, but though Him I can!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Katie Davis

And this is what I learned: the hard does not minimize His goodness but allows us to experience His goodness in a whole new way.

From this post on her blog.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Do You Groan Over Iniquity?

And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it." And to the others he said in my hearing, "Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the house.
Ezekiel 9:4-6

This passage really struck me when I read it. You know, often we cannot do that much about the iniquity of other people. We can gossip about them. That doesn’t help. We can talk to them about it, and pray for them over it, but that’s about it. It is up to them whether or not they will change.

But do we have sorrow over their sins? Do we groan over the sins that have been and continue to be committed by the people of God? The determination to look the other way when someone needs our help; the deliberate taking advantage of those who are less fortunate than we are, to the often condoned sins of the flesh that echo the perversions of the world?

In this passage, God commands an angel to kill all those who do not mourn over the iniquity of the people of God. And he says to start the killing with those who should know better, those who serve God in the sanctuary.

We cannot do much about other people’s iniquities. But when we express Godly sorrow over the sins of ourselves and others, then God will save us (certainly from our own tongues!). And when we mourn over the sins of His people (us and others) we will pray about them, pray sincerely, God will protect us, and cleanse us from these sins.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Three Enemies

THE FLESH

"Sweet, thou art pale."
"More pale to see,
Christ hung upon the cruel tree
And bore His Father's wrath for me."

"Sweet, thou art sad."
"Beneath a rod
More heavy, Christ for my sake trod
The winepress of the wrath of God."

"Sweet, thou art weary."
"Not so Christ:
Whose mighty love of me suffic'd
For Strength, Salvation, Eucharist."

"Sweet, thou art footsore."
"If I bleed,
His feet have bled; yea in my need
His Heart once bled for mine indeed."

THE WORLD

"Sweet, thou art young."
"So He was young
Who for my sake in silence hung
Upon the Cross with Passion wrung."

"Look, thou art fair."
"He was more fair
Than men, Who deign'd for me to wear
A visage marr'd beyond compare."

"And thou hast riches."
"Daily bread:
All else is His: Who, living, dead,
For me lack'd where to lay His Head."

"And life is sweet."
"It was not so
To Him, Whose Cup did overflow
With mine unutterable woe."

THE DEVIL

"Thou drinkest deep."
"When Christ would sup
He drain'd the dregs from out my cup:
So how should I be lifted up?"

"Thou shalt win Glory."
"In the skies,
Lord Jesus, cover up mine eyes
Lest they should look on vanities."

"Thou shalt have Knowledge."
"Helpless dust!
In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust:
Answer Thou for me, Wise and Just."

"And Might."--
"Get thee behind me. Lord,
Who hast redeem'd and not abhorr'd
My soul, oh keep it by Thy Word."

By Christina Rossetti

Monday, 13 February 2012

Ephesians 3

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (from verse 20).

God is able to do far more abundantly, not only than what we ask, but what we think! I know that sometimes I feel like I’m asking God for a lot, nagging Him even. I pray for things to go well, for healing for myself and others, for my friends to grow in areas I know they are struggling with, for my non-believing family and friends to come to Christ, for contentment in my single state, for wisdom (boy do I need that one!) and for so many other things. God can do all that. He can do more than all that! He can do even more than I think of, or think I need or think would be nice.

God is not only able to do more abundantly, but He DOES more abundantly! It amazes me when I look back how much God has done for me – the healing, the orchestrating of events, changing my heart so that I desire Him and His ways more than I desire my own. And they are just the things I notice! How much more He does that I shall not discover until I get to heaven!

What a friend we truly have in Jesus!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Who Shall Deliver Me?

God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.
All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run ! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys

Myself, arch-traitor to mysel ;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me
Break off the yoke and set me free.

By Christina Rossetti

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Ephesians 2

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (verses 8 and 9)

It is not our doing that we are saved. We like to think it is, even just a little. We like to think that somehow we are more loveable than the unsaved, or slightly nicer than the unsaved. This is so completely untrue. We are every bit as depraved as many others around us who are still estranged from Him. It is all His doing; we have no right to boast, not even to ourselves.

That is a great temptation – to think of ourselves as slightly better for having had the gospel revealed to us. Yet how far this is from the truth! We need to remember that we were dead – completely and utterly dead – in our trespasses when Christ saved us. We were as dead as any saved sinner is now. And if our behaviour has changed (as it should have) to reflect our alive-ness, then that is no merit to us, and no demerit to the dead. It is as it should be, and it is all Christ’s work.

LORD, make me grateful to You for my salvation. Help me to never boast, even to myself, as thought Your Work was mine. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, 10 February 2012

The Thread of Life

I
The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me:--
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?--
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
II
Thus am I mine own prison. Everything
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.

III
Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time's winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanitive;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
he bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?

By Christina Rossetti

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Novus Homo

I was recently reading about ancient Rome. Most people are aware that the majority of the ruling was done by the patrician (upper) class. However, this eliminated a lot of people (i.e. the majority of the population) from governing their own society. Some of these people, called plebeians, were obviously very talented, and more capable than some of the patricians were.

So in 368-367 BC, the constitution of Rome was altered to allow plebeians to be elected to public office. Any plebeian elected because a ‘Novus Homo” quite literally a New Man. Until they were declared a New Man, they were not fit to rule.

As Christians, we too have been declared New Men. We have been declared fit to govern – people who otherwise, by attribute of their birth were completely unable to rule. Yet because of Christ’s death, we are now elevated to a new station.

How wonderful our Lord is to us!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

O Lord, when Thou didst call me

O Lord, when Thou didst call me, didst Thou know
My heart disheartened through and through,
Still hankering after Egypt full in view
Where cucumbers and melons grow?
--'Yea, I knew,'--

But, Lord, when Thou didst choose me, didst Thou know
How marred I was and withered too,
Nor rose for sweetness nor for virtue rue,
Timid and rash, hasty and slow?
--'Yea, I knew.'--

My Lord, when Thou didst love me, didst Thou know
How weak my efforts were, how few,
Tepid to love and impotent to do,
Envious to reap while slack to sow?
--'Yea, I knew.'--

Good Lord, Who knowest what I cannot know
And dare not know, my false, my true,
My new, my old; Good Lord, arise and do
If loving Thou hast known me so.
--'Yea, I knew.'--
-Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Memorial Box Monday

Neither Kallie (my housemate) nor I drive. We get around to and from church events either via lifts or public transport. Sometimes this can be difficult, especially getting back from late night church events via public transport.

We have a regular church prayer meeting, and this particular Tuesday was wet and dark. Kallie had a cold, and I have really bad asthma, so getting there (which we always do via public transport) was not much fun. We entered the prayer meeting more than slightly wet, and had only slightly dried out by the end of it.

At first we thought that people were just late. But eventually we realised that in fact numbers were rather less than usual. Then we noticed that the numbers lacking included every one of our potential lifts. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

I prayed that we would be able to have a lift back at least to a station, and that someone would offer it to us rather than us asking (because I don’t like it and Kallie dislikes asking even more).

Immediately after prayer had finished, Paul came up to us and asked us if he could give us a lift back to a station. We got a lift to a station on our line (as opposed to the other lines that have stations nearby, meaning we didn’t have to go into the city and back out) and I got to thank them for bringing Samuel (their son) to prayer because I love to see children in prayer meetings with us.

And as a result, neither Kallie’s cold nor my asthma got worse!

Yippee Jesus!

Monday, 6 February 2012

International Voice of the Orphan

Linny from A Place Called Simplicity is starting a ministry that will pray for, feed and support orphans in Africa! There are HEAPS of ways of getting involved - youc an donate craft items to sell, praying for a child, donating, or going as part of a mission team.

http://www.internationalvoiceoftheorphan.com/

Do check it out!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Lowest Place

Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
Thy glory by Thy side.Give me the lowest place: or if for me
That lowest place too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
My God and love Thee so.

By Christina Rossetti

Saturday, 4 February 2012

By His Stripes We Are Healed

I attend a Pentecostal church. So everyone believes that miracles are still available for God’s people, most people speak in tongues (as in more than 95% of the congregation), and they all believe in diving healing.

Which makes me a little awkward. You see, I’m sick.

I’ve been sick all my life. Seriously, I sometimes joke that I had 7 near death experiences – and then I got born. Since being born, I’ve been hospitalised for asthma, had cancer, had chronic fatigue, every contagious childhood disease except mumps in spite of immunisation (whooping cough sucked), and a breast cancer scare. I’ve cut an artery. I apparently had 2 blood transfusions during my operation for cancer. When I had my wisdom teeth out, I had 3 allergic reactions, lost 10.5kg (going from 49kg to 38.5) in 3 days, and was hospitalised “dangerously dehydrated and malnourished”. (Joke: I’m never getting my wisdom teeth out again!)

Then I became a Christian.

Less than a year later I was hospitalised, initially with the doctors thinking that I had advanced meningitis, and that I was most likely going to die. Turns out it was “just” pneumonia. As can happen with pretty much anyone, and is more likely to happen with people who already have lung issues, I didn’t get properly better – my x-ray showed that I had lung damage, and that it was most likely to be permanent. So when I had asthma attacks all night I just chalked it up to pneumonia.

Eventually they got worse. They go so bad I was getting 3 hours of interrupted sleep a night – while working full time – for about 2 years. My iron levels plummeted, and I started having chest pains. After a barrage of medical tests I found out that dairy makes me stop breathing. I’ve probably always been mildly allergic to dairy, but having pneumonia really brought it out. Also turns out I’m coeliac, which is why my iron levels plummeted. I had to have an iron infusion after I collapsed and couldn’t walk for 3 hours. Try getting home by yourself when you can’t walk. Especially when there is a dead rat on the footpath. Not fun.

When I avoid all allergens, I am relatively healthy. But boy, does this cause issues.

Now, you see, I get the “Jesus died for our healing” every second week. He died so we could be fully healed of all of our diseases and live the victorious Christian life, without a day of sickness, etc, etc, etc.

Now, aside from the fact that I think that’s historically bogus, (St Paul appears to have had health issues, most likely with his eyes, and Timothy had stomach problems, and other great saints of the past have had a variety of health issues), quite frankly it annoys me.

Firstly, I AM HEALED. Jesus does not just heal people via miracles. Sometimes (often, these days) He uses doctors. It took several doctors to figure out what was wrong with me, and initially, I didn’t spend much time praying about it, because I just assumed that what I had would be easily figured out and fixed. As I said, it took about 2 years of doctors visits. But by the time of this specialist, I was spending a lot of time in prayer about this issue. Jesus healed me alright. He just used a doctor.

Secondly, my allergies do not bother me. They bother other people. I know them, I can cope with them just fine. But just because they bother you does not give you the right to tell me that I need to rely on the blood of Jesus to heal me of my diseases. And you definitely do not have to right to pray for me and then suggest that I go and drink a milkshake. Should you do so, I reserve the right to punch you repeatedly on the nose and then pray for your healing.

Thirdly, if you follow this argument theologically, you are going to run into trouble. What if I never get “healed” of my allergies? Does this mean I’m a bad Christian? Or a non-Christian? What about the people who prayed for me? Are they bad Christians, or non-Christians? What if they are leaders in our church?

And what happens when you get sick – really sick, not like a cold sick? What if you don’t get better in a few days, or weeks, or years, or ever? What if you are sick for the rest of your life? Will you still tell me that by His stripes we are healed, and that means that you aren’t really sick?

We are healed by Jesus. Sometimes that healing takes place physically in this life – sometimes even by miracle (and I have at least 2 miracle stories of my own, but I’m not sharing). But Jesus heals all who will come to Him of their greatest illness – the disease of sin, and that is the greatest miracle of all!

Friday, 3 February 2012

All Heaven is Blazing

All heaven next hit is blazing yet
With the meridian sun:
Make haste, unshadowing sun, make haste to set;
O lifeless life, have done.
I choose what once I chose;
What once I willed, I will:
Only the heart its own bereavement knows;
O clamorous heart, lie still.
That which I chose, I choose;
That which I willed, I will;
That which I once refused, I still refuse:
O hope deferred, be still.
That which I chose and choose
And will is Jesus' Will:
He hath not lost his life who seems to lose:
O hope deferred, hope still.

By Christina Rossetti (yes - O'm reading a collection of her poetry at the moment!)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Galatians 6

For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (verse 8)

Which am I sowing to – the flesh or the Spirit? It is easy to fool oneself and think one is sowing to the Spirit when we are only sowing to the flesh. We need to take a sober look at oneself in the light of God’s Word in order to know which we are sowing to.

Although I sow less to the flesh than in times past, I still sow abundantly to the flesh. I have several areas I need to work on: day-dreaming, lust, and use of my tongue. For me, each area relates to the others, so reducing the time I spend day-dreaming results in less impatient rebukes or gossiping.

My duty is to walk before the LORD now, this day. Not in some day in my imagination when all my dreams have come true, but today, this real day God has given me. Dreaming otherwise is but sowing to my flesh, and it is something I need to work on with the help of His Spirit.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numbed too much for hopes or fears.
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimmed with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall--the sap of spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perished thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.

By Christian Rossetti.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Reached the $400 mark

For my fundraising as of Friday! Whoo-Hoo!

I still have a lot of paintings to sell - I've been spending a fair amount of my spare time painting (and not writing either blog posts or working on the book I want to write).

I won't post a picture of any of the paintings I have for sale, because I have a very high turnover rate - by the time the photos of my previous lot of paintings posted a few days later, all but one had sold. But ask me, and I can show you photos on my camera. All paintings are $20.

I'm also selling felties again, and sell for $5.

I am also going to be selling chocolates, holding a book sale, and a few other things. I am very much wanting to raise all of the costs for this trip as I am looking at moving to Uganda in either 2013 or 2014.

If you have any fundraising ideas, or want to help out, I would LOVE to hear from you!

I hope to travel in June.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Behold, I stand at the door and knock

Who standeth at the gate? – A woman old,

A widow from the husband of her love;

‘O lady, stay, this wind is piercing cold,

Oh look at the keen frosty moon above;

I have no home, am hungry, feeble, poor.’ –

‘I’m really very sorry, but I can

Do nothing for you, there’s the clergyman,’ –

The lady said, and shivering closed the door.



Who standeth at the gate? – Way-worn and pale,

A grey-haired man asks charity again;

‘Kind lady, I have journeyed far, and fail

Through weariness; for I have begged in vain

Some shelter, and can find no lodging-place.’ –

She answered: ‘There’s the workhouse very near;

Go, for they’ll certainly receive you there’ –

Then shut the door against his face.



Who standeth at the gate? – A stunned child,

Her sunk eyes sharpened with precocious care.

‘O lady, save me from a home defiled,

From shamefule sights and sounds that taint the air;

Take pity on me, teach me something good.’ –

‘For shame, why don’t you work instead of cry?

I keep no young impostors here, not I.’ –

She slammed the door, indignant where she stood.



Who standeth at the gate, and will be heard? –

Arise, O woman, from they comforts now;

Go forth again to speak the careless word,

The cruel word unjust, with hardened brow.

But who is this, that standeth not to pray

As once, but terrible to judge thy sin?

This whom thou wouldst not succour, nor take in,

Nor teach, but leave to perish by the way.



‘Thou didst it not unto the least of these,

And in them hast thou done it unto Me.

Thou wast as a princess, rich and at ease –

Now sit in dust and howl for poverty.

Three times I stood beseeching at thy gate,

Three times I came to bless they soul and save;

But now I come to judge for what I gave,

And now at length thy sorrow is too late.’

By Christina Rossetti

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Joshua 24:15

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

I was working on memorising some verses, and this verse stood out to me. Now, this verse is usually not quoted in full, the last part of it seeming to suffice – “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” And indeed, us serving the LORD is the most important, and teaching those in our care to serve Him too runs close behind.

But this verse says more than that. It speaks of the unbeliever, and the “modern” unbeliever at that.

“Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.”

Choose what type of false gods you will serve, if you will not serve the true and living God. Choose between those of past and those of the new land. Choose between them. And though there is not much difference in actuality, you can choose your false deities.

Which brings me to the modern unbeliever. And just how much this verse applies to them.

Spirituality is on a high. Many young people today – and even older people – acknowledge the reality of there being more than just the material world. But because they do not want to serve Jesus, they turn away from Him, and choose to serve someone else. Either the false gods of their fathers, or the false gods of those who inhabit the land.

One of the major types of false spirituality is that of the past errors of the European world. Modern day witches (“white witches” or “green witches” mostly) abound. Druidism is a revived religion after having died out over 1500 years ago. Tales of the faerie are popular, believed in, and their guidance and protection is sought with rituals and offerings. And who can go past the popular interest in those cleaned up images of vampires and werewolves as epitomised in Twilight and a whole host of books, TV shows and movies designed to make the most of this craze.

But there is another choice. That of the new land. And a lot of people choose those gods. Westerners, those whose culture knew the true and living God, have turned to chase after not only their own failed “spirituality”, but the “spirituality” of the far East (of Buddhism and Hinduism), of the warm and fuzzy connections between the land and animals and people of native religions (such as following the Dreamtime stories of the Australian Aborigines or the shamanism of the Native Americans).

I know people who have gone both ways. I have friends and a family member who have become “white witches”. I have friends who have become Buddhists. I have other friends who have become devotees of a particular sect of Hinduism.

There will always be those to whom serving the LORD seems undesirable, even evil. Many of those people will still want a source of “spirituality” in their life. But that is not our primary concern. As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. We will serve Him even though those around us walk away from Him. We will serve Him even when those around us think we are crazy, and throwing our lives away. We will serve Him, and we will bring up those after us to serve Him.

As for me and my house, we WILL serve the LORD.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

My Gift, From A Christmas Carol

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

By Christina Rossetti

Friday, 27 January 2012

Crossing the Threshold

As a teen, I was fascinated with a lot of folk stories, especially Celtic ones. And while that definitely lead to some things that God has had to work on in my life, occasionally God will remind me of different aspects of them to illustrate a point that He is wanting to teach me.

One that He reminded me of recently was the concept of the threshold.

You see, in Celtic mythology, nothing could enter your house unless you let it. Your house was your domain. As such, everything needed to be INVITED in. If it wasn’t invited in, it could not enter. This gave people a measure of protection against spirits. But once you invited them in, they could enter, and enter whenever they wanted, and do whatever they wanted when in there.

God pointed out to me how sin is literally like this. Many sins are comparatively powerless until you invite them into yourself. But when you do, then they have power over you, a power that can only be broken by Jesus.

Sin, like the spirits of folk tales, have a variety of ways of tricking their way into you, of fooling those that are not fully aware. They make you think that they are not what they really are, so that you want them inside. But it is nothing but a lie.

The solution is to be completely filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we will not be fooled, and that we will not desire to invite sin inside. For when God is protecting the threshold of our souls, we will be safe from all principalities and powers that would harm us.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sam's Uganda Diary

For those that are interested, I made a diary of my trip in Uganda. It's pretty detailed, and I took a lot of photos. I am slowly uploading it over at my church's mission blog!

Hope Waverley Missions

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Fundraising Efforts

As most of you know, I'm planning on going back to Uganda at least once this year. I will be working with orphans and street children, which is something I am quite passionate about.

In order to raise funds for this trip, I've been busily making some beautiful paintings. Here are some that are available for sale.









I'll likely be posting more in the near future.
All paintings are $20, and go towards my plane fare and other expences. To put it in perspective, flights were a little less than $2000 last time, and staying cost another $650. Immunisations cost over $1000, but I don't need them again. I'm expecting my next trip to cost between $4000-$5000, as I will be going for longer and there will be other expenses.

As of writing this post (18.01.12) I have raised $280 in about 2 weeks! Praise God!

Monday, 23 January 2012

2 Corinthians 5

For the love of Christ controls us / For Christ’s love compels us (from verse 14, EDV/NIV)

This is my verse chunk for the year of 2011, the verse I want to be living by. To live according to His love, and to have it controlling me every though, compelling my every action.

It amazes me the progress God has made in my life this year (for it definitely wasn’t me who made it!) I grew a lot in patience and holding my tongue last year, the kind of grit your teeth patience. This year, I have grown more in loving-kindness, the kind of patience that emphasizes with the one causing the need for patience that emphasizes with the one causing the need for patience. I have grown in my knowledge of the Scriptures, and I have grown closer to Him.

Truly, it is not my love that I expend on those who demand love whilst being ‘difficult’. It is His love, being poured out by the power of the Holy Spirit, though me and my life. And what a privilege to be so used by God.

I need more of His love in my life. I need it to completely control me, that I might truly be a bright light for Him. I need to be compelled by His love to go further, do more for those who so desperately need love and a touch from Christ.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The Mountains of Religion

I love the analogy that so many people use about the different world religions – God is a mountain top, and each different religion is a pathway to God. Some people are just taking a different path from you. And as soon as this statement is mentioned, everyone nods sagely, as though it is a brilliant statement, destined to end all of the world’s ills, including world hunger. I love it, because it’s so untrue I find it funny.

But a few days ago I was thinking – what if religions were actually mountains? What would they be like?

Well, Buddhism is the mountain that states that there really is no mountain, it’s all an illusion.

Hinduism would state that after this mountain, there is another mountain, then another, then another, until eventually, you get to that amazing valley of nothingness.

Mormonism would be that if you climb THIS mountain well enough, you get to go to another planet were you become your OWN mountain.

Islam would believe that there is nothing outside the mountain, that girls aren’t allowed anywhere but at the bottom of it (and they are nothing but distractions to the real climbers, the men), and that you have no guarantee that at the top of the mountain, God is actually there or will speak to you.

Judaism would believe that there is only one way up the mountain, but that if you don’t take all the exact right equipment, even if you make it, you might as well have not made it. Even if that equipment means that you actually would have more difficulty than without it.

But Christianity would believe that while there is only one path up the mountain, the Guide came down and helps us climb it, giving us all we need and helping us – even carrying us – along the way.

Obviously there is a lot more to all of the different religions here than what I’ve stated. But the thing is, different religions are not the same; they are not all pointed to God. They all have mutually exclusive claims.

So what mountain path are you on?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Amy Carmichael

"a confession of love"

My vow.
Whatsoever Thou sayest unto me, by Thy grace I will do it.

My constraint.
Thy love, O Christ, my Lord.

My Confidence.
Thou art able to keep that which I have committed unto Thee.

My Joy.
To do Thy will, O God.

My Discipline.
That which I would not choose, but which Thy love appoints.

My Prayer.
Conform my will to Thine.

My Motto.
Love to live, live to love.

My Portion.
The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance.

Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing that we do Thy will, O Lord our God.

Friday, 20 January 2012

James 5:1-6

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.

This passage is a terrible one for me. I am so rich compared to so many in the world. I have so much. I have used the money I have for selfish things – not things that are “bad” in and of themselves, but things that are not always as caring for others as they should be. Little things, like ordering pizza rather than cooking myself, and using the money saved to make a difference. Things like buying new books when others don’t have food.

I am not alone. So many in the Western church use their money for their own selfish ends. Not bad, just selfish.

We have hoarded in the last days.

Our money is not our own. Nothing we “have” is. It all belongs to Christ. Yet we lay it up for ourselves, spending it on petty pleasures or just in keeping it in the bank “for a rainy day”. All the while, the food, the clothing, the products, we buy is made by people who are desperate for a small portion of the riches we have.

Jesus became poor that we might become rich. We need to aim to do the same, to use our money in ways that will make a difference in the lives of those around us, both in this life and in eternity.