Encouragement

WHAT A SHEPHERD, WHAT A TABLE!

(January 16, 2021) Maureen McQuillan shares…

In these trying days of the worldwide covid-19 pandemic, its associated troubles, and regular TV bad news, it’s great to relax. Even to take a short break away from home driving around the refreshing open countryside minutes from where we live and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Often, I spot sheep relaxing round the paddocks, those fleecy animals that cause me to reminisce about them, about shepherds and David’s refreshing Psalm 23.

Reassurance
Some folks have wrongly associated Psalm 23 with death … often Robert has its reading requested by non-churchgoers at funerals. But I see it as an encouraging psalm about life – a good life here and now not just in eternity, filled with the love and kindness of God!

David had been a shepherd in his youth. Although he’s talking about God removing doubts and fears, I see verses two to four of this psalm as reflecting on his own responsibility to ensure the flock under his care would be at rest, need of food and water supplied and, when frightening disturbing threats came along, his promptness to defend using shepherd’s weapons (and muscles as in 1Samuel 17:34-36a).

A thoughtful and fearless shepherd, David knew to care for these emotional animals (Yes, not only are humans emotional… a 2009 report published in Animal Welfare describes sheep are capable of experiencing a whole range of emotional feelings from fear to anger, despair, boredom and happiness). (more…)

REJOICING: ‘SHOW ME THE WAY, GOD…’

(December 14, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share a Christmas-centred challenge:

Christmas in in the air and we just had to watch it yet again… It’s a Wonderful Life, that 1947 classic Jimmy Stewart movie, commended by Movieguide® as ‘arguably the most beloved movie of all time.’

A Christmas story about (as Jimmy Stewart put it in a recent Movieguide® report) ‘… an ordinary man who discovers that living each ordinary day honourably, with faith in God and a selfless concern for others, can make for a truly wonderful life.’

Recognising… God carries
After serving for four years during WWII flying B-24 bombers over Germany, having been appointed Chief of Staff of the 2nd Combat wing, 2nd Air Division of the 8th Air Force, the actor, now Major James Stewart, ended the war after 20 combat missions, receiving recognition and medals.

This splendid movie was his first after returning from England – but he was war effected, sickly-looking, couldn’t sleep or focus and depressed.  Jimmy Stewart has told how a little book that his dad gave him before he was shipped out brought him through those tense years of leading men into bombing raids. Called The Secret Place—A Key to the 91st Psalm, he would read it before every raid over Europe – and carry it with him. He has said, ‘And I was borne up. Dad had committed me to God, but I felt the presence of both throughout the war.’

Realising… God cares
Jimmy Stewart is known to have relied on his faith both during the war and in life in general. In It’s a Wonderful Life, the character he plays is George Bailey, a humble businessman who turns nastily ungrateful, worried sick due to an unexpected seemingly unsolvable crisis and wanting to end his life.

But faith in Jesus drives the man behind the character. Jimmy Stewart recalls his own feelings during that lowest point in George Bailey’s life when he is faced with unjust criminal charges and, not knowing where to turn, ends up slumped in despair in a little roadside restaurant, unaware that most of the township’s people are arduously praying for him because they care: (more…)

A TIME OF CONFUSION AND UNCERTAINTY

(December 6, 2020) Dr Robert McQuillan, drawing on his current article in Counselling Australia journal, encourages taking windows of opportunity (Note: Although the article was aimed at encouraging professional counsellors, it’s full of Bible-based principles that every Christian should employ)…

Seems that newscasts share more bad news daily about the worldwide pandemic, increasing crime, rebellion against authorities, government opposition groanings instead of encouraging support… it’s rare to hear good news that makes you laugh, even smile.
So I’m urged to begin this article with a simple, good-news story…

Courtesy
Evidently a 93-year-old Italian wept when told his hospital ventilator one-day usage bill was 5,000Euro (approx. $8100AUD).
A doctor kindly advised him, ‘Don’t cry over it.’ To his surprise the old man responded, ‘I’m not crying because I have to pay. I cry because I’ve been breathing God’s air every day for 93 years and never had to pay anything. But for one day’s use of your ventilator, I must pay EU5000! I realise now how much I owe God… I’ve never courteously thanked him before for his free air!’
Doesn’t that makes you smile – and think? (more…)

PRAYER CHANGES/CHARGES!

(November 11, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge:

Recently we heard an outstanding declaration by CS Lewis (portrayed by Sir Anthony Hopkins) in that great, heart-touching 1993 movie Shadowlands

  • ‘Prayer doesn’t change God – it changes me!’

Prayer is so important in the Christian’s life, a daily must as far as we’re concerned, something we’re into each morning over breakfast before we’re into the ‘whatevers’ the day brings forth. We’ll also find ourselves praying at different times during the day… about something arising in our own circumstances or about a request from someone (either known or unknown Christian, or a non-Christian stranger)… or in response to a leading by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer is…
1) Vital
Wigram’s Englishman’s Greek Concordance of the New Testament lists over 100 scriptures on prayer and praying. Jesus’ own prayer life is mentioned around 30 times in scripture (Jesus-Praying).

  • One key scripture is Luke 18:1 – Jesus urging that his disciples ‘should always pray and not give up.

(more…)

STORMS OF LIFE? JESUS CARES!

(October 24, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind readers that Jesus truly cares…

Life is like a terrifying storm to several at this pandemic time – including some Christians!

And not just because of uncertainties regarding loss of income, delayed/postponed desperately needed operations, increased crime, unruly behaviour in our streets and beaches, lockdown, and such.

Many, including some church leaders, are concerned about the future… and seemingly unanswered prayers. We’ve had some share feelings of ‘I don’t know what I’m meant to be doing… now or in future days. Doesn’t Jesus care?’

Doesn’t Jesus care?
What an audacious, unwarranted question! Of course, he cares!

Remember the Mark 4 incident where Jesus directed his disciples to cross over the lake by boat to a different region?

Verse 37Message recounts that ‘A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it.’  Verse 38a appears to casually mention that in all this fury ‘Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping!’  Then we read that the obviously frightened disciples ‘woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”’

See the bigger picture here… Jesus’ friends are accusing him of not caring! And with the storm raging around them, they would not have been gently whispering in his ear! No, this would have been a harsh, possibly screaming frantic, ‘Hey! Don’t you care?’ And no acknowledgement of his status as either Rabbi, Teacher or Friend! (more…)

MASKS, RESTRICTIONS AND GLORIOUS ASSURANCE

For some of us, face masks trigger old memories. 

As children way back in WW2 days we were so pleased to receive our gasmasks.  It was comforting to carry your mask with you, but to wear it was a different matter.

Yes, you felt more secure and it was comfortably shaped when you put it on,  but immediately you put the mask on the visor steamed up, which meant you couldn’t see much and although you could shout through it your voice was muffled, so it was hard for anyone to understand what you were trying to say!

There are times when life imposes restrictions on us. Today we find ourselves in another time of masks needing to be wore – different masks admittedly, but with restrictions. (more…)

MEANINGFUL KICK-STARTS

(September 17, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share…

Seems that every day TV newscasts share more bad news stories either about the current worldwide pandemic or crime, rebellion against authorities, government opposition groans instead of encouraging support… it’s rare to hear some good news, something to makes you laugh, even smile.

So let’s begin this article with a good news item!

Zimbabwean friend Raviro emailed a very touching story about a 93 year-old Italian being told the hospital bill for ventilator one-day usage was 5,000Euro (approx.. $8100AUD).

As he suddenly began weeping a doctor kindly advised him not to cry over the bill.

To his surprise the old man responded, ‘I don’t cry because I have to pay. I cry because I’ve been breathing God’s air every day for 93 years and never had to pay anything for it.’

He added, ‘But for using a ventilator in your hospital for just one day, I have to pay EU5000! I realise now how much I owe God… I never thanked him before for his free air!’

Now doesn’t that makes you smile – and think?

Powerful kick-start
Genesis 2:7 confirms that God himself gave his creation the ability to breathe and live life – ‘he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live’ (GNB). (more…)

WE DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING – BUT WHY WORRY?

(August 11), 2020) Life Focus Ministries’ Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind us that God has his mysterious ways…

It’s only natural to wonder what’s going on, not just regarding this pandemic time but about other life issues and incidents. We’re human after all! Our July article I Don’t Know About Tomorrow led to some folk asking, ‘Well, what do you really think about all that’s going on in the world? And win the future of the church – a cleansing time? And what about…?’

Hey… we’re like our state and federal’s leaders: we don’t know everything… but like them we’re concentrating on living one day at a time! With thanks to the Lord for each new God-given day, we commit it to him, asking his blessing and protection – and then get on with it, however the day works out.

But… a question: You ever asked the Lord, ‘Why?’ or ‘What’s going on?’ and didn’t get an answer… or the answer you expected?

And did you ever come to the conclusion that it’s better to appreciate and enjoy the benefits God gives us daily rather than query him about how he works things out? Hmmm?

Worrying? Relax and trust God
Jesus told us (Matthew 6:25NLT), ‘…I tell you not to worry about everyday life.’ And, verse 29, he asked a question, ‘Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?’ Of course not!

(more…)

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT TOMORROW, I JUST KNOW…

(July 26, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…

Every day TV news in our state of Victoria (and worldwide for that matter) announces more new covid-19 cases and people are talking either about the next stage of lockdown, the loss of business, revenue and jobs.

And the big questions: ‘Where’s it all going to end, what’s next, and what will tomorrow bring?’

Tomorrow?
It’s a matter of living one day at a time – and making the best of every day! The reality is that none of us what tomorrow will bring.

Oh we can make plans for each new tomorrow and believe we can/will accomplish them… and most times we will without any hassles, especially when we rely on the Holy Spirit’s help.

But… life is life and every now and then something goes amiss and we can get thrown for a sixer, sometimes a catastrophe, some horrible disaster that can ruin us in some or several ways hits us.

And when that happens to Christians, our faith can be so shattered that we could easily lose confidence in ourselves, even our trust in our caring God. We can even feel that life isn’t worth living or caring about, that we don’t want to go on because we can’t work it out. (more…)

BOTTLES ON LIFE’S BEACH?

(June 28, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan bring a timely challenge…

Ever thought of your life as a bottle with an important life message landed in strange territory? Hmm? Intriguing… but firstly some intro comments –

Been wondering over the past few months of lockdown how others are going? Thoughtful friends, both church and non-churchgoers, have caringly phoned/SMSed/Skyped/emailed us enquiring about us… and we’ve been doing likewise.

Seems we’ve all found things to do, ensuring we aren’t bored. One matter that keeps coming up in conversations is: ‘When will we get back to normalcy?’

Reality: No More ‘Normalcy’
We won’t – not normalcy as we used to know (if we can refer to pre-lockdown times as ‘normal’!). Life has changed; the world is in a bigger mess than ever: disrespect, crime and hooliganism are rampant… consumer-wise and business-wise it’s a whole new ballgame ‘out there.’

(more…)