Thursday, October 27, 2016

Suicide – the embarrassing problem

Australia has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, yet I've rarely been asked to support a Christian ministry, which directly addresses this problem. It's a problem, which doesn’t get much air space. Perhaps the problem is an embarrassment. Australia is a blessed country. It has a high standard of living with good working conditions and the freedom to express opinions. Yet there are people, who are completely overwhelmed with distress. Prosperity hasn't brought the peace or contentment you'd expect. It's a need close to my heart. I know what it's like to feel overwhelmed by daily life.

Fortunately for me, I found God, or rather God found me, and from a spiritual point of view it's a great opportunity to present the gospel. Yet there seems to be a reluctance to get involved in the problem or even discuss it.

Jesus' circle of influence was with the people in his immediate vicinity. He didn't hide from the difficulties close at hand. Likewise, while it's good for us to be concerned for those in difficult circumstances overseas, it shouldn't be to the exclusion of pressing problems closer to home.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Blog Tour : Clash of the Titles

We've some great books for this month's
Clash of the Titles!

Vote for your Fave!

Scroll through these releases and cast your vote for your fave.
It's a tough choice, but it's up to you to determine our Clash Champion!

Love's Faithful Promise  by Susan Anne Mason
Widower Dr. Matthew Clayborne is devoted to two things: his work with wounded soldiers and his four-year-old daughter, Phoebe. When Deirdre O’Leary, a feisty New Yorker, arrives requesting he use his skills to help her stricken mother, he has no idea how his life is about to change.

Feta and Freeways by Susan M. Baganz

Nikolos Action is the lead singer of the band and doesn't realize love is right in front of him until their manager, Tia, is almost killed trying to save his life. After years of ignoring her is it too late to earn her trust...and her love?

Dangerous Alternative by Kelli Hughett

Hollywood grip, Levi Boulter unknowingly puts himself in the crosshairs of a murder plot. Now, he'll do anything to keep the woman he loves safe, even if it means losing her forever.

Inconceived by Sharyn Kopf

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And, it would seem, Jolene, Uli and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

Child of Dust by Shoba Sadler

After the sudden death of her parents, Vietnamese socialite Cao Kim Lye steps out of a world of crystal and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi when she goes to live with her American chauffeur and his adoptive family at a shop cum living quarters.


If you have trouble viewing the entire survey, CLICK HERE to load a dedicated page to the survey.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 38:27

All the officials did come to Jeremiah and question him, and he told them everything the king had ordered him to say. So they said no more to him, for no one had heard his conversation with the king. Jeremiah 38:27

The information Jeremiah gave the officials was a lie (v. 26). He kept the king's real conversation a secret. Jeremiah wasn't obliged to answer the officials' questions just because he was asked. Likewise, we shouldn't feel obligated to answer inflammatory questions.

God calls us to be people of integrity and keep our word. He tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Yet there are times when the most loving thing to do is to keep information from people who don't need to know.

My mother has dementia and often asks questions but she doesn't understand the answers or becomes unnecessarily upset. The staff at the nursing home where she lives regularly keep information from her as an alternative to giving her sedatives. I have reluctantly learnt to do the same.

It was also a problem that Rahab had when the Israelites spies came to Jericho (Joshua 2:4-6). Rahab took a huge risk and told the king's messengers that they had left the city at dusk. Guards were sent on a pointless pursuit. However Rahab's decision to conceal their hiding place was richly rewarded by God.

Jesus told mourners that Jairus' daughter was asleep, not dead (8:52). After Jesus healed her, he ordered her parents not to tell anyone what had happened (v. 56). Jesus was effectively asking them to perpetuate the story that she slept.

Confidentiality is important. People need to be able to trust us to keep their legitimate confidences but, of course, not unlawful secrets. Sometimes, we need God's discernment to know the difference.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The very cranky bear by Nick Bland

My granddaughter asked me to read, The very cranky bear by Nick Bland on a recent visit. I was surprised that this simple story could be so insightful.

Zebra has a plan to cheer up the Cranky Bear by giving him strips. Moose thought he needed antlers and Lion thought he needed a golden mane. Each of them thought the bear needed what they had. It was the sheep who actually listened and helped him get what he really wanted.

It was a well-written story with minimal words, yet the meaning is clear. The pictures are strong and distinct. They add great visuals to the story.

The story reminds me that it's easy to be like Zebra, Moose and Lion who make assumptions about what others want and the value of listening.

A great lesson in empathy.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

No Plan B

I'm challenged by people like Elisha. When Elijah called him, he killed his oxen and burnt the ploughing equipment (1 Kings 19:21). He literally burnt his bridges. He couldn't go back to farming. He had no Plan B. He wasn't keeping something to go back to if following God became difficult or unpleasant.

Likewise, in Jesus' ministry there came a point when many stopped following him because his teaching was "too hard." "'You do not want to leave too, do you?' Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God'" (John 6:67-68).

Peter recognised God was his only option. Despite knowing all the difficulties of following Jesus, despite all the hard teaching, despite all the uncertainties, Jesus was worth following. He had "the words of eternal life." The long-term reward was worth the short-term difficulties. Peter went on to say, "We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (v. 69). It didn't matter that Peter didn't always understand what Jesus was saying or doing, because he understood who Jesus was.

In the same way, I need to hold onto the long-term view. I need to establish in my mind and heart that I will put away my Plan B's, trust God and rely on his grace, no matter what.

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Devotional Thought : Jeremiah 32:8

Then, just as the Lord had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.' I knew that this was the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 32:8

Jeremiah was imprisoned when Hanamel offers him this land. It was a completely selfish and deceitful act on Hanamel's part. The town of Anathoth was already in Babylonians hands and Jeremiah would not be able to possess it. The land was completely worthless. Perhaps Hanamel thought Jeremiah wouldn't know.

As an act of obedience Jeremiah buys it but he prays to God with an implied question: "And though the city will be given into the hands of the Babylonians, you, Sovereign Lord, say to me, 'Buy the field with silver and have the transaction witnessed.'" (v. 25).

God's replies (v. 36-45) with a declaration of his Sovereignty and amazing promises of restoration. "Once more fields will be bought in this land of which you say, 'It is a desolate waste, without people or animals, for it has been given into the hands of the Babylonians.' Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin … because I will restore their fortunes, declares the LORD." (v. 43-45).

Like Jeremiah God calls us to live by faith which often requires us to act as if the future is already here. We are to pray, "Your kingdom come" (Luke 11:2) and look for signs of his kingdom as it works like yeast silently but progressively making a difference (Luke 13:20). Whilst remembering his promise that he will never stop doing good to us (v. 45).

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review : The Grass Castle

The Grass Castle by Karen Viggers is an enjoyable story set in an Australian context that I'm very familiar with. I liked reading about places that I know well. The book is quite descriptive in places which did slow the pace of the story and I did wonder whether this could have been handled better. However I found the story engaging so persisted through these passages.

Abby is a university student who meets Cameron, an ambitious journalist, through her research work on kangaroos. Daphne is an elderly widow trying not to be a drain on her family. I liked the unlikely romance between Abby and Cameron and the friendship between Abby and Daphne. These characters and their relationships were relatable and insightful. Both Abby and Daphne were burdened by issues from their past which they are able to come to a better place of understanding and acceptance through the book.

A kangaroo cull is a dramatic part of the story. This was a difficult but well-handled part of the story. Both sides of the controversy were shown and explored. Aboriginal land issues were also touched upon but not investigated to any large extent. It added to the backdrop without being a distraction.

Overall a thoughtful and interesting story.

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