You are currently viewing archive for April 2019
Posted By Nan

God sends many blessings in life and, as a parent, one of the greatest He can send is the marriage of one of my children. My wonderful son and his delightful fiancee are getting married this weekend. My daughter who lives over 1,200 kilometres away is coming for the wedding. We will have the wonderful blessing of her company and that of her fiance as well. In just over a week after that My husband will celebrate a milestone birthday so my daugther will be staying. So I am experiencing a time of great family blessing.

However, there will not be much time for my blog so I will be taking the time off until Wednesday 8 May. May you have a blessed time over the next few weeks.

Posted By Nan
When I first heard the terrible news of the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka I wondered who might have done it. My first thought was that I had heard of militant Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka, but I rejected that because Buddhists celebrate peace so how could you have militant monks?
Then God reminded me, Christianity is faith of peace too. Yet that is forgotten with all the wars, especially wars pitting one Christian denomination against another. With past instances of people ostracised for wanting to marry a protestant, or a catholic. With terrible destruction of other people carried out in God’s name as Westerners invaded the new World countries, Africa and Asia.
Then I remember what is happening now in the world. With all the hate speech about those who are perceived as being less than perfect. The hate speech about homosexuals, transgender people, black Christians and other Christians of differing ethnic groups. Hate speech and Christian backed government policies against the poor, the destitute and the refugee. Harsh legalism and the denial of mercy. I could go on.
I was appalled that Christianity has become such a stench for people and even for me, when I consider myself a Christian, that I should perceive Buddhism as a peaceful faith and not consider Christianity as that.
Where have we failed to follow Jesus? Where have we drifted from the path He has asked us to follow? Where have we failed to speak up against the hatred and the harshness? Where have we come to be perceived as anything but loving? Where have we let God down by allowing His name to be associated with such evil?
I have selected three passages from the Bible that I believe the Western Christianity is failing to follow.
The first is Matthew 22:37-40.
This is the passage where Jesus answers the question about what is the most important commandment. The first and greatest commandment is of course to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Jesus then told those listening the second commandment was to love your neighbour as you love yourself. He said that all the law and the Prophets hung on those two commandments.
If everything about our faith hangs on the commandment to love God totally and to love others as we love ourselves, how does hatred, harshness, judgementalism and legalism creep in?
The answer is, those things shouldn’t. Total love for God and love for others and ourselves is completely incompatible with hatred, harshness, judgementalism and legalism. So if we observe those behaviours we are failing to obey the central commandments of our faith.
The next passage is Luke 11:39-46.
In this passage Jesus spoke of the foolishness of the Pharisees who worshipped the outwardly clean, but were internally full of greed and other sinfulness. In other words, they maintained an outside semblance of Godliness but inside were full of sin. They judged others for not outwardly being perfect but allowed such sin to rule their own lives. They failed to show generosity to the poor, despite God commanding them to do that. They strictly gave their tithe to God but neglected to be just to others and to Love God. They burdened others with legalism and did nothing to help them find a way to forgiveness. Sadly, many Christians in today’s world are like that. And when Christians are like that then harshness, judgementalism, hatred and legalism become the overwhelming impression of Christian faith and therefore of God.
The final passage is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. It would be helpful to prayerfully read this passage, it should be something you are intimately familiar with. It should be a passage to study and seek to follow. All the religious observances so many Christian denominations teach as being important are nothing without love. All the prophesies, all the knowledge, all the faith are nothing without love. Even giving to those in need is nothing without love.
That is how we should live. As Christians we need to take responsibility for how others perceive God. Our bad behaviour and failure to observe His commandments is giving God a bad name. We need to follow the way of love and demonstrate to others that Christianity if about love, acceptance and mercy.
Let people think of Christianity and picture the Good Samaritan. Let them see love, acceptance and mercy, not harshness, greed, judgmentalism and legalism. Make the voices of those who follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1a) louder and more insistent than the voices of the Pharisees. Bring God’s name into good repute.
Posted By Nan
Today is Easter Saturday. In Australia Good Friday and Easter are Public Holidays. Not just public holidays where some people get the day off, but proper public holidays where the shops do not open. So Easter Saturday tends to be very busy. I had to go out to the shops today and was caught up in the queues for the car park, the queues to get into the shopping centre, the queues in each store, the queues to get out again. It just went on. I caused me to wonder what Easter is for many people. Sadly, we live in a society where Easter is nothing more than a wonderful change for a holiday. So many people speak of Easter as a time to go camping or get away. With a public holiday on Monday, then the Anzac Day public holiday on Thursday, people are taking the opportunity to take three days off work and get ten days of holiday. And on Easter Saturday, people are flooding the shops to buy things and generally chill.
Apart from the brief foray out to get some grocery items , I have been in bed over the past two days recovering from a cold. It has been pretty hard to devote time to remembering Jesus’ suffering on the cross and the confusion of the disciples on the day in between. I felt I was missing the opportunity to remember. I felt guilty that I was missing that.
Today I put on “The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe” to watch. I slept through a lot of it but was awake for the scene where Aslan went to be killed. As the scene approached where Aslan left the camp in the darkness, with the only ones aware of his departure being the two girls, I was struck at how similar this is to the people happily using Easter as a time of relaxation and merriment. Only two girls accompanied Aslan on his lonely walk to the White Witch and her minions to be killed on behalf of the girls’ brother. They watched from a distance, at his instructions, as He was humiliated and murdered, then lay hugging him all night. In the morning they reluctantly got up to leave to tell the others what had happened. There was to be a big battle with the White Witch and those in the camp were waiting for Aslan to lead them. As they got up to leave they heard a crack as the stone table broke in two and Aslan’s body disappeared. Then they realised He was standing in the archway above the table. Radiant and very much alive.
This is a representation for children of the story of Jesus. And it does not follow exactly what happened to Jesus, but it does follow the intentions. There were those who walked with Jesus and stood by in horror as He suffered and died on the cross. There were those who were thrilled at his torture and death and willingly joined in mocking Him. There were those who just walked away and chose not to know what was happening. If you don’t know then you can’t be horrified. You can’t feel you have to do something.
People often represent those followers hiding in the upper room as cowards, adrift and leaderless. But that is not how C.S.Lewis saw it in his book. I re-read those passages in the Bible they agreed with his view. The followers were those who, like the girls, sat with His body as long as possible. Then there were those who sat up all night. Yes they were confused, but they had not lost their faith in God. They did not understand what had happened. But they still stuck to their faith in God and in Jesus. How could they have understood? We who are raised on the after story – growing up with the stories of Jesus being raised from the dead for our sins – find it easy to see Good Friday as the precursor of the joy of Easter Sunday. But if we had lived in that time the true meaning of Good Friday and Easter Sunday would have been more than we could comprehend.
We should not only focus on the events of the cross and resurrection at Easter. We should live each day with that knowledge. And most people do. But we can get caught up in the rituals established by our society. The Easter Cards, the Hot Cross Buns, the Easter feasts, the Easter Eggs. It is fine to use those symbols if they have a meaning for you and I have always seen the Hot Cross Bun as a reminder on Good Friday of Jesus’ death. I also see the egg as a symbol of rebirth and life. I don’t do Easter Bunnies or Easter Egg hunts.
It is okay to observe Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is also okay to choose not to do that, but instead remember every day what Jesus has done for you.
Remember the spiritual battle involved. This was seen in “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” with the battle of the followers of Aslan against the White Witch and her followers. It was seen in the exultation of the crowd as Aslan was humiliated and killed. And we can remember that spiritual battle as we remember how much satan wants to deceive us and turn us away from true faith in Jesus. He can do this through religiosity, legalism, through defining faith as attending church, through being encouraged to know Jesus through a religious leader, rather than personally. We need to guard against being caught up in the observances of our faith and instead worship truly. It is not easy. There are times when life will challenge us and distract us away from time with God. But God is always there.
Never lose hope in your faith. Keep following Jesus, believing in Him, reading your Bible, talking to Him. Remember that talking to God is not about elaborate prayers but can be as simple as arrow prayers, a few sentences quickly inserted into the busyness of the day, long times spent just having a conversation. Jesus wants a relationship, not a formularised structure that creates a barrier between you and Him. If you feel you have missed spending as much time as you should ‘remembering’ Good Friday and Easter Sunday do not despair. God wants your relationship not rituals. He wants you, the real you.
Posted By Nan
For today’s reading, I encourage you to look up Angel/s in a concordance and read the verses that come up and find for yourself God’s message for you.

The Bible talks about angels and they have been described in many ways. Some angels have looked like normal people, others have been invisible to people, others have been visible to only a few. In other places angels are described as being natural forces like winds and storms that God sends out on the world. Then there is the popular perception of angels we see at Christmas with children dressed in white robes with wings and little halos. This is similar to the view of angels I was raised with. To confuse matters, we are also given the information that satan has his angels as well.
I have never really taken angels seriously, although I have seen them in dreams and my son once told me that as a child he saw an angel. Sadly, the logical world of academia has told him he just imagined it but I trust God will reacquaint him with that memory in God’s timing. I guess I have put angels in the too hard basket.
But recently I have kept seeing an image of an ancient woman in animal skins. She looked like an ancient shaman. When I first saw her she felt comfortable and safe. Then my logical mind starting attacking the image. All the church taught legalism started creeping in. So I prayed and waited and waited. When I asked God this morning what He wanted me to write about today I was told to write about angels. That was confronting! What do I know about angels? I haven’t ever studied them. Then my ever patient and loving Heavenly Father reminded me of the ancient woman. I saw her during prayer over a situation that was distressing me. I asked God for help and I saw the woman. How could that be an image of satan or his angels? She came in answer to God and God continued to talk to me, even though I could see the woman.
I have so much to learn about God and this situation has demonstrated how much I need to learn. I am still stuck in the Western Christian view of God, which is far from the complete picture of God. He has been guiding me over the past months to a fuller view of Him and seeing this woman emphasised how inadequate my view of God is.
God is teaching me so much that is outside the area of Western Christianity. I have always been taught that things outside that area are wrong, but I have had a lot of friends in Jesus who were from Africa and their understanding of God was so far outside my understanding. Yet God loved them and was obviously in relationship with them.
God has taught me a lot of from reading the writings of the Christian mystics of a thousand years ago. He is challenging my understanding of Him. I have been embracing that. I still find I am sometimes caught up in the Western Christianity view. It takes time to replace that teaching with the broader teaching from God. I am reminded in this of the passage from “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” where the beaver tells the children Aslan is not safe, but he is good. God is not safe, but He is good. He is deeper than our perception and broader than our ability to understand. What we will learn of God in this life is a fragment of who He is. We need to stop being frightened of that aspect of God that is outside our safe Western view of the world.
What God is asking us to do is to be open to Him. Get to know Him so that we will be able to discern the Godly from satan. We must learn to trust God. To open ourselves to what He wants us to learn about Him.
In two days we will remember Jesus suffering and dying on the cross. We will remember the worst day for Him, the worst day for His disciples, and the best day for our relationship with God. As you remember that, pay heed to the spiritual forces around at that time. Wonder at what satan was doing during this time. In the movie “the Passion of the Christ” satan was shown tempting Jesus and then being devastated when Jesus resisted to death. I suspect that did happen. It is worthwhile wondering at how the spiritual forces of evil and God lined up on that dreadful day when the Son of God gave up His life for us. Think of the horror of going through such a horrific ordeal without God there as support. Think of the horror of God separating Himself from you, of feeling totally isolated and alone. Being without spiritual support is horrifying.
We have so much to learn about God beyond the story of Jesus’ death on the cross. This Easter why not explore that spiritual battle, the depths behind the story. I believe God has an important message for each one of us in that exploration.
Posted By Nan

Luke 10:30-37.

How do you show others what God’s love is? How do you demonstrate to someone who has never met God what His love looks like?
It doesn’t look like hateful messages telling those who you have judged to be sinners that they are going to hell.
It doesn’t look like moving homeless people on as they desperately try to find somewhere to sleep or rest and not offering them any mercy.
It doesn’t look like judging others.
It doesn’t look like supporting political parties who treat refugees harshly.
It doesn’t look like not caring for the poor.
It doesn’t look like sticking to your little church or Christian fellowship group and not reaching out to others who need a kind word.
It doesn’t look like most things we do that are about self or judgementalism.
Today, I have used the Bible verse from Luke 10 to reflect on. I love this passage. It speaks of the greatest love that we can show for each other.
A man, lying beaten and helpless by the side of the road. As he begs for help a priest passes by. This is a religious leader. A man who should reflect God in all he says and does. Yet he crosses to the other side of the road and scurries on.
Another man came along the road. The wounded man looked desperately at him to save him. This man was also a fellow countryman. A Levite. Surely this man would be full of mercy and save him. Yet he also crossed to the other side of the road to avoid the man and scurried away.
Then another man came along the road. He was not an Israelite. He was the hated enemy – a Samaritan. He was considered to be inferior in every way to Israelites. He was someone Israelites did not associate with. Yet this man saw the wounded man and was filled with compassion for him. He stopped and offered help. He held the man tenderly and bandaged up his wounds. He gently lifted the man onto his donkey. Then he took the man to an inn where they both stayed the night and the man continued to care for him. In the morning he paid the innkeeper to care for the wounded man and promised to pay for any extra costs his care incurred.
Jesus told this story to illustrate His second command that “you love our neighbour as well as you love yourself” (v27). He wanted to demonstrate what a neighbour was. It must have been galling to those listening to hear a hated Samaritan described as a good neighbour. But it was an important point. Our neighbours are not just those it is convenient to love. Not just those who are like us. Our neighbours are often those who are hard to love. Those who make us uncomfortable, who are different, who require an effort to communicate with, who take up our time. Neighbours come in all shapes and forms and we must never become like the Priest and the Levite who are more caught up in the law than in the love of Jesus. Remember the first command Jesus gave was to love. Love God. Then the second was to love. Love your neighbour and yourself.
Make the choice daily to let go of the anger you feel towards others. Hand it over to God. Ask for His help when the anger and hurt is overwhelming and wait patiently for His healing. One beautiful way I have seen it put is to “release your investment in staying hurt and angry”.
Make the choice daily to show love to others. To think kindly of others. To not rush to judge and punish, but instead to pause and consider the other person. Sometimes others do things because they aren’t nice, but there is usually something underlying that. Set boundaries with love and don’t rush to condemn. Remember you are a sinner too.
Ensure your actions are consistent with the mercy and love Jesus showed during His time on earth.
Avoid legalism. Read the Bible for yourself and seek God to understand it. Don’t rely on others to interpret the Bible for you. Think for yourself. You do not ask others to interpret your relationships with your friends so why ask others to interpret your relationship with God?
As you walk through your day. Take the time to breathe in God’s grace. And when you breathe out. Make sure you breathe out God’s grace. God’s grace is a gift for all. He gives us grace to share with others. Make sure you do. That is more powerful a demonstration of God’s love than all the words you can use.



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