Encouragement

STILL MUCH TO DO!

(January 25, 2022) Maureen McQuillan encourages all who feel unsure about the future… 

A lot of good folks at this time of worldwide troubles have been experiencing disappointments… not being able to do certain things, go places, catch up with family and old friends, getting hit unexpectedly with covid-19 (but, praise God, had been vaccinated and are getting through), job losses, short of ready finance, suicides, troubled minds… and so on.

And so it’s a joy when one hears good news stories, especially of God answering prayer and blessing in various ways. Mark Ellis GodReports regularly shares such testimonies, eg… Muslim Woman Dreams About Man in White With Bleeding Feet. And we ran missionary to Romania David McGuire’s excellent report Grateful for 2021 Successful Outreaching but Moving Ahead Into 2022 With Vision.

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However, one also hears of Christians who have had bad life experiences and my ‘heart goes out to them.’Some are so troubled that as they hear negative news reports from around the world, wonder what’s next, or think ‘the end is near: Is Christ coming back very soon?’

Encouragements from God’s word
To troubled saints, I would say this: Be encouraged! Be blessed by scriptures such as the following…

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CALLED TO SERVE? ENCOURAGEMENT NEEDED, NOT DISCOURAGEMENT

(January 24, 2022) Robert McQuillan challenges…

Most of us are ‘moving on’ into 2022 believing that ongoing tragedies such as covid-19 won’t hinder us from enjoying life, and doing whatever God wants us to be about. Whether our church is a ‘Zoom’ one – as many churches are now called – or with limited attendance, individual members have needs, as do those outside the traditional four walls.

Previous years’ catchcries such as ’Moving On’ or ‘Moving Forward’ or ‘Moving Ahead’ are being echoed afresh. This is good, for we all need such inspiration so as not to be living in the negatives and disappointments of the past couple of years.

And it’s been interesting to hear of pastors – backed with good sermons and challenges – encouraging their people to be involved in growing their church, that it’s all not just up to leadership.

But… I’ve also heard some sad outcomes! Take this story for example…

Discouragement
Jon
(not real name… but, interestingly, means ‘gift of God’!) responded to such a challenge some time back to help his church move on, move forward.

Seeing a great need among the men, he became burdened and very enthused to play his part by running a men’s group… but sadly, to his surprise he wasn’t greatly encouraged by his pastor (who had just delivered a challenging message about being involved!).

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FIVE REALITIES

(January 14, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge…

Many times Jesus spoke about truth: the classic scripture is that precious one of John 8:32, ‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ – relating to the gospel message.

And when He was before Pilate, His inquisitor asked Him emphatically, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). Well, the Greek word here is aletheia – and as Dr Jim McClure pointed out in his November 2017 Words of Life (#G7), ‘can be translated as either “truth” or “reality.”’ (Link: Truth and Reality-Aletheia)

Ah… reality. A dictionary meaning of this word is ‘the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.’

There’s been times when I (Robert) have been able to work in two particular incidents to sermons to get a reality, not a notional point across. One is kind of humorous yet serious, the other clearly serious. In fact, they’re both quite serious! I’ll share the humorous one first…

A guy is running very late for church… let’s call him Kristian Kristianson. As he reaches the door, he stops abruptly because he finds the devil standing outside crying his eyes out. Astounded, but with concern, he thoughtfully asks, ‘Why, what’s wrong, Mr Satan?’

Between tears, the devil sobs, ‘Why it’s those Christians in there! They blame me for everything!

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MIRACLE IN THE MANGER… MIRACLE IN THE SINK

(December 12, 2021) Maureen McQuillan reflects…

Trust you’re looking forward to Christmas Day as much as we are. Once again our family will be with us, especially our great-granddaughter Avaleigh Grace for her first Christmas.

And, of course, our precious daughter, Wendy, who was born on Christmas Day… Wendy who when younger always reminded me, ‘Two pressies, Mummy; Christmas and my birthday. Not together, Mummy, but given separately.’

The real Christmas present
This is the one discovered in the Bethlehem manger by those shepherds who’d been so scared by the angelic visitation…

‘An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”’ (Luke 2:9-14).

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WAIT, WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

(December 6, 2021) Mama Lava gets one thinking…

‘Just to clarify…’

If I had a dollar for every email I sent with those words, I don’t think I’d have to send them anymore. I’d invest those dollars and retire. I am frequently second guessing my understanding of things. Can you relate?

Second guessing
I have noticed that people seem more distracted and less prepared lately, me included. Those qualities do not make for clearer communication. I frequently want to interject ‘Wait, what did you mean by that?’

And sometimes, even with our best efforts and preparation, our words land with meanings which are different than we intended. It can be a good thing when someone second guesses their first inclination about what we meant. Written words are especially prone to misinterpretation.

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RELYING ON GOD’S GRACE

(December 4, 2021) Norman and Margaret Moss share a meditation…

Some months back we were rejoicing in the birth of our 17th great grandchild, and all was well with us!

Shortly afterwards we had fresh reason to rejoice about God’s grace! Our daughter Verity was diagnosed with cancer, yet she has had total peace throughout this time. So many of our friends were praying for her, and we thank you all for your prayers. On September 30 she had robotic surgery and made a brilliant recovery. Such is the grace of God.

Many reasons to rejoice for God’s grace
So much can happen in a few brief weeks… but we live in daily dependence on the grace and love of our Father in heaven.

Meditating on 2 Timothy 2:1, ‘Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,’ we felt the Lord was saying the following:

  • Live in my grace. It is full and overflowing with love.
  • Explore my grace. It is unending. Love every part of it.
  • Be full of my grace in all forgiveness and love.
  • Be abounding in my grace. There is no weakness in it, no thinning of it in any part.
  • Be covered by my grace. It covers in every way, giving comfort where there is any pain.
  • Be strong in my grace. It eases and cleanses and renews in every part.
  • Enjoy my grace. It is nothing if it is not generous. I pour it out lavishly on all my people.
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τέταρτος μάγος – THE FOURTH MAGI

(November 26, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan, as with other contributors this month, again encourage blessing others…

As many know, we relax watching good movies, particularly film noir, and wholesome TV shows. Recently, although it’s only November, we kept finding great Christmas-centred YouTube ones highlighting the Christmastime season as one of generosity and giving.

Next month, of course, brings around that time of year when we celebrate the coming to earth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, born of the young virgin Mary, fulfilling Isaiah 9:6.

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Celebrating Christ’s incarnation
Sadly
, to many it’ll just be a holiday season but to those who know the gift of our gracious, loving God, we’ll celebrate it remembering we owe him so much for the miraculous incarnation of his Son who would willingly sacrifice himself on Calvary’s cross to pay the penalty of our sins (John 3:16).

And, of course, we owe much to the Holy Spirit who, as Romans 8:11 declares, ensured that Jesus rose from the grave (‘With healing in his wings’ to quote from that Wesley/Whitefield hymn that became the carol Hark the Angels Sing), as well as birthing the church (Acts 2).

Looking ahead, most Christians will be making Christmastime special, getting together with family, enjoying fellowship and good food, gift-giving, relaxing and happiness-finding and making. But… unfortunately some will miss out next month because they’ve heard myths generated around what we call the Christmas story and been disillusioned!

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A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

(November 23, 2021) Maureen McQuillan has a different slant to reaching out…

Not the A Night to Remember movie about the Titanic tragedy, rather an unusual summer evening when Robert had been invited to minister at a European church outside of Melbourne. Maybe I should call this article A Night of Surprises, or… Suffering.

We have great articles this month reminding us to reach out to people, even strangers, and bless them whether they know Jesus or not. And taking opportunities to witness him, the only light in this dark world.

Such reaching out to bless someone closeby – that ‘love thy neighbour’ matter Jesus highlighted (Matthew 22:39) – reminds me of how our Christian neighbours bless us meaningfully. They kindly bring our bins up, even taking them down if see Robert struggling with them.

And I’d like to remind us that reaching out isn’t always about ‘spiritual matters’… it includes being practical and doing so even if it’s inconvenient, embarrassing. So let me share about such an opportunity to bless a stranger… from a different point of view.

Sinister
That particular Sunday evening was many years ago and coming out our frontdoor, my first surprise was seeing Robert looking down at the patio at a strange, cultic-like object, made of Wicca-type sticks! Who had left them? Robert picked them up carefully and suggested we pray again before setting off.

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COP BUSTED FOR SELLING DRUGS GOT COURT SURPRISE

(November 10, 2021) Michael Ashcraft shares an amazing testimony…

On the 17th day of solitary confinement in jail, cop John Clichy broke down and made a confession not to the crime of which he was accused but to his need for Jesus Christ.

‘I realised I needed help because there was no way I was getting out of this, there was no way I was getting through this,’ he says on a Psalm Forty video. ‘January 31, 2013, right after midnight, I wholeheartedly called out to God. I saw everything that I was doing wrong that was displeasing to God that was harming me, and I realised I got myself into that mess. I said, “God, I don’t want to live that life no more.” I wholeheartedly repented of that life.’

Taking his newfound faith seriously
The former undercover detective who lived a high-flying life – with spinning rims, free drinks at bars and 19 girlfriends – was accused with two other Schaumburg Village, Ill, detectives of re-selling part of the drugs they confiscated from busts.

But while the two other cops accepted plea bargains for lesser sentences, Cichy took his fledgling faith seriously. He had heard God say to not break down in fear of getting a longer sentence and to go to trial. He faced 18 counts which, if convicted, could result in a minimum of 24 years in prison, yet he refused every plea bargain they offered because God told him to.

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EFFECTIVE GOD-GIVEN DAYS

(October 25, 2021) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share an encouragement…

We had a tear in our eyes when reading a comment by Henry Winkler last month. Renowned for his iconic role as the Fonz in the hit TV series Happy Days, after years as Arthur Fonzarelli, he questioned whether his career effectively used his ‘God-given talents.’

According to www.movieguide.org, having been trained as a classical actor, he had always meant to be a ‘serious’ actor – doing drama, not comedy.

‘Occasionally I would wonder: Was playing the character of Fonzie doing anybody any good? I’d been raised in the Jewish faith and still felt a real peace and closeness to God when I worshipped in a synagogue,’ he said. ‘Was I doing what I was really meant to do? Was I using my God-given talents in the best possible way?

One day an answer came in the most unexpected way. Back in the 80s Henry Winkler had been chairperson of an annual event called the Special Arts Festival held at the Music Center in Los Angeles. Children came there with mental and physical handicaps come to perform in their own amateur theatrics, to show their talents, and exhibit their artwork.

‘Children are there from all backgrounds and all walks of life, and as I walked through the crowds, I’d do a lot of hugging. I’d hold the hand of a little girl in a wheelchair. I’d joke with a young boy without a leg,’ he said. 

‘Fonzie!’
In a  www.guideposts.org 1985 article, Henri Winkler said he remembered one interaction with one of the children that confirmed for him that faith and entertainment were not separate. He wrote: Several years ago there was such a racket that it was amazing I heard the voice at all. ‘Fonzie,’ someone said. A small, shy voice in all the hubbub. ‘Fonzie!

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