Distress Drives

steering wheel

Distress can drive us to or away from God – it’s our choice.  Distress that drives us to God brings no regret, but all gain – as God turns it around for our good.

In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul talks powerfully about this concept:

Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around.  You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him.  The result was all gain, no loss.  Distress  that drives us to God does that.  It turns us around.  It gets us back in the way of salvation.  We never regret that kind of pain.  But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed with regrets.  And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which distress has goaded you closer to God?  You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible.

My son Israel loves sirens – as soon as he hears them he says, “Mum – ear orr ear orr.”  Then when the sirens stop, he says, “More!”  He wants me to make more sirens happen and I have to explain to him that I don’t make the sirens happen, I’m not in control of it.

Like little children look at us for all their needs, we need to have that same trust in God.  There are limitations to what I can control for my son – but God has no limitations.  When are circumstances are bringing limitation, when we are in distress – let’s make sure we allow the distress drive us to God.

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Silver shrines

silver

It is often very difficult to let go of something we have security in or we have put our trust in – especially in the area of finance; but ultimately, our trust needs to be in God and him alone. Circumstances change, things come and go – but we can trust always in God’s goodness towards us.

Psalm 13:5-6
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

We need to understand that God has the best for us and his way of doing things may seem harder at first, but is the most rewarding in the long run.  Sometimes in order to grab the good things God has for us, we need to leave behind some things or perhaps just the approach we take to that particular thing.

Acts 19 tells a story of a guy named Demetrius who wasn’t willing to leave anything behind for the sake of the gospel.  He was a manufacturer of silver shrines of Artemis. These were silver or bronze reliefs of the goddess within her temple. The sheet of silver or bronze was pressed to make such a plaque and once dedicated in the Great Temple of Artemis, would serve local worshipers and pilgrims as votive offerings, family worship centres or souvenirs.

Demetrius’s product brought in a lot of profit for the craftsmen.  Out of fear of loosing this profit; Demetrius assembles his fellow craftsmen.  He tries to persuade them that the gospel is a threat to them, as it is making people shun idolatry and as a result, orders and sales will dry up.

Fear was the fuel behind Demetrius’s actions – he misunderstood the gospel and missed his opportunity to see how God could have provided for him in other ways far beyond what he was achieving by himself.

Are we missing out on God’s goodness because we are more comfortable trusting in our way of doing things?

What is your silver shrine and are you willing to let it go?

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Presence at Christmas

Manger

It was my aim to have the Christmas tree up and decorated on the 1st of December…that was a few days ago now.  I have wrapped a number of presents though – all the more reason to put up the tree because there is no better place for presents to sit than under the tree!

As exciting as buying presents is – especially for my 18 month old son; I can’t help but ponder the thought of how much more important presence is at Christmas than presents.

I was watching the classic kids movie ‘Richie Rich’ recently and loved the message behind it.  The story centres around a Billionaire family who have their priorities right.  They value family over their finances.  The greedy CEO of Rich Industries is bitterly disappointed when his plans to steal the Rich financial fortune fails.   Instead of finding bars of gold in the family vault, all he discovers is the family’s most precious memories and treasures – nothing that is of value to him.

This got me thinking…

What is it that we value the most at Christmas time?

For most people I think the cliche answer would be: the presence of family members and friends that add so much meaning to our lives.  Although I completely agree with this and I want to give a lot of my attention to making sure my family and friends are loved and appreciated this Christmas; my number one aim this Christmas is to make sure that I am honouring the presence of Jesus this Christmas.  It was his presence in this world that changed our lives forever.  It is his life lived on earth, his death and resurrection that bought us the freedom we find in him.  He made the way for us to be made right with God, so that we are no longer separated by the things we do wrong; but his grace reunites us with God.

Traditional Christmas Carols reflect on the story of Jesus’ birth at Christmas and his glory.  When we sing together it’s a great reminder of the real meaning behind Christmas and it is a fantastic way to honour Jesus.  I hope you can join us this Friday and/or Sunday night at Life Church Brisbane  - 109 Golda Ave Salisbury, at 6:30pm to celebrate Jesus with us!

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Home Improvements

home improvement

We are in the middle of moving house and the house we are moving into isn’t ready yet.  There are a number of home improvements that need to be made before it is a safe environment for a toddler.

I cleaned the kitchen for three hours and Ben commented, “I’ll have to come see what you did.”  To which I responded, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference!”  I had scrubbed the inside and outside of cupboards that were so stained and dirty and even though I could tell the difference, my job was far from over and the work I had achieved was probably not that noticeable to others.

It made me think of how it’s quite like the changes we make within ourselves – the home improvements of our heart.  We may be working on a certain attitude within our hearts and even though it has taken a lot of time and energy, it may not be that noticeable to others – at least not straight away.

God graces us to grow and change and it’s for his glory that we become more like Christ and less like our human natures.  Don’t get frustrated when others don’t see the change – it is not the motivation for change – to please others; although people will be more blessed by the changes we make because it will result in being more loving, caring, generous, forgiving, patient and self-controlled.

I have been blessed with some awesome leaders in my life and I choose to position my life to be challenged for growth and change.  My hope is that I am teachable and soft-hearted and so I can keep growing and learning for the rest of my life.  Are you committed to a life of home improvements?

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God the restorer and more!

before and after

Often times it’s when we face difficult circumstances that we realise we actually need God, especially in this day and age when we have so much resource at our fingertips. He is the one true God who offers us clear slates from our pasts and futures filled with purpose.  The image of the furniture being restored is a great picture of what God does for us.  We might not even realise our broken state – but after he restores us we can see just how much we needed him and how much better we serve our purpose in life being functional!

When circumstances are out of our control and seem so overwhelming; it’s God that turns them around and uses them for our good – God is the ultimate restorer!

Sometimes it seems like we don’t get the answer we want, but when we can trust that he has the best for us – in the long run we can see just how he turned it out for our good.

Romans 8:28 reassures us of this:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is found in Daniel chapter 3.  They were determined to stay true to God and not bow down to the god that the King was requiring them to worship.  They were threatened to be thrown into the fiery furnace and their reply was: “Our God is able, but even if he doesn’t rescue us, we still won’t bow down to your god.”

WOW! What a response!

So they were thrown into the fire and it was made 7 times as hot as it usually is – so much so that even the guards who threw them into the fire were killed from the heat.  Jesus was in the fire with and it was visible to see a fourth person in the fire with them and the King commented: “looks like a son of the gods.”

The three men weren’t harmed at all and what’s more  is – they didn’t even smell like smoke!

In the following chapter Daniel 4, this same King, King Nebadcadnezzer started out by saying that it is a pleasure to tell about the miracles, signs and wonders that God had performed.  Even though the story told of how his Kingdom was stripped from him and he lost everything.  It was in the midst of this horrible circumstance that he found the one true God for himself and declared him to be the most high God and as a result; he saw his Kingdom restored to even greater than it had ever been.

Our God – the restorer and more!  He didn’t just bring back the Kingdom King Nebadcadnezzer had lost, he restored to him one far greater!

At the time of the hardship it can be difficult to see any glimpse of hope, but when our faith is in Jesus and not the circumstance and not in ourselves – it’s then we are reminded of his ability to restore and do more!

What difficult circumstance are you facing right now?  Can you trust Jesus to restore you and do more than you could ever imagine?

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Here’s to the future!

 

driveway-01

We can’t change our past, but we can determine our future.

I was channel surfing the other day and something on Dr Phil grabbed my attention.  It wasn’t a very nice story – as I guess it never is on that kind of show.  It was about a girl who had been sexually abused by her father and he was now consequently in prison. There were drugs involved also and this 19 year old young lady was a heroine attic as a result. Pretty horrible upbringing to say the least.

Dr Phil presented a lot of options for her to take steps forward in recovering and this young lady was very responsive in wanting to receive help.  She, like all of us can’t change her past, but she can determine her future.

Even though there are no perfect families and no perfect lives, our past doesn’t always have to be something we have to overcome.

I was inspired the other day by a lady and her daughter who were in front of me in the line at Aldi.  On the aisle next to us was another lady and she had 4 daughters with her. That lady was buying just a few items and then she didn’t have enough money for all of them, so she put two items back.  The lady in my line reached over with some cash and said, “here take this, this should cover it” to which the lady in the other line said, “oh no, no I can’t accept that.”  The lady with the four daughters left and the lady in my line was quick to ask the cashier for the two items left behind and she bought them. She then gave the two items to her daughter and told her to run and catch up to the lady with the four daughters and give her the items.

I loved this demonstration of generosity. I love that the lady in my line didn’t accept no for an answer and sent her daughter to give the items to the other lady so she couldn’t say no.

Such a small act of kindness, but what a huge impact it could have.
Perhaps the lady with four girls is a single mum barely making ends meet.
Perhaps the little girl who ran and gave the family the two items will continue to be a generous person and impact numerous people in her lifetime.

A life lived for beyond ourselves is so much more attractive then just barely making ends meet.  My goal is to set my children up with a great heritage that is a springboard for their future.  I hope that the upbringing they have will be one that is Jesus-centred, others-focused and life to the full.

I know I won’t always get it right, but there is nothing greater than being established in a local church and having a community of believers around you to encourage you and to inspire you.  To have leaders who are ahead of you on the journey that you can speak openly with and who you are willing to let lead you.

Just like Dr Phil offered the young 19 year old some steps forward in recovery, she had to actually accept the help.  I hope to remain teachable and open to my leaders so that I can lead a life of influence.

Here’s to the future!

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Greatness

Let’s be honest, we don’t always get it right…who’s with me?

I’m 16 months into Motherhood and as much as I love it, I also find it a challenge!  I can be pretty hard on myself, because I want to be a perfect Mum, but there is no such thing! Instead of beating myself up for not being perfect, I need to remember that I can be great!

Here are a few keys to greatness:

1. We can be great even when we make mistakes.

Mistakes are an opportunity to move forward.  Firstly, take responsibility for the mistake and secondly, learn from it.

2. Seek help

Help comes in many ways.  God, our creator and loving heavenly Father can help us in so many ways and he is only ever a prayer away. One prayer of help that often goes his way is when I ask for more patience and I really do notice the difference when I stop and ask him for it.  Help can come from professionals, leaders, mentors, family, friends, books, the internet and so much more.  There is always more to learn if we are willing to seek it out.

3. Stick it out

Greatness is achieved when we stick it out and choose to keep getting better.  It’s found in the small details, the daily choices, our response to failure…stick it out.

My husband and I were inspired to start our day with reading our Bible as the first thing we do before we get out of bed.  We started today and as I read Lamentations 3 , I was reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning; that despite where I failed yesterday – today is a new day and he is a faithful God.  What a great start to my day – to know I have a God who is for me and not against me.  I have a great God who will help me become great.

Today I choose to get better, do you want to join me?

 

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