Encouragement

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…)

PENTECOST ‘LOCKDOWN’ AND CHAPTER 29 WILDFIRE

(May 14, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share…

Pentecost Sunday is only a couple of weeks away – the last Sunday, last day, of this month!

In Judaism, Pentecost – Shavuoth – was the harvest festival celebrated fifty days after the second day of Passover (Pesach) on the sixth and seventh days of Sivan, and commemorating the giving the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Today it’s a two-day holiday for Jews to renew acceptance of God’s gift, pledging everlasting loyalty to him, and God’s ‘re-giving’ the Torah.

Christian Pentecost Celebrations
It’s not known exactly when the first Christian Pentecost Sunday celebration occurred, but it was mentioned in the Epistula Apostolorum, an Eastern church work, 2nd century. As time went on Pentecost celebration became popular, in fact in Europe it was a more popular time for baptism than Easter.

In any case Pentecost Sunday for Bible-believing Christians, especially Pentecostals, became a festival celebration of Holy Spirit baptism, not water baptism!

On the seventh Sunday after Easter, it commemorates the initial outpouring, the descent of the Holy Ghost, on those faithful believers who had gathered together waiting as Jesus had instructed them – ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 1:4-5).

Now we can’t gather in church buildings to celebrate Pentecost this month due to lockdown but let’s take a fresh look at some things that happened in their ‘time of lockdown’ to those faithful followers who were committed to following the risen Saviour. (more…)

RELAX IN TROUBLING TIMES!

(April 07, 2020) Maureen McQuillan encourages …

It seems that many times in life we go through a spiritually dry period where we’re fighting difficult circumstances, sicknesses, doubts, fears, other personal troubles – and perhaps our great enemy, Satan.

The reality is that often the real problem is that we’re fighting in our own strength!

Trusting God in storms
And so we become weary spiritually, physcially,emotionally and even mentally. Much energy is expended with few satisfying results. This is when we need to recall some of the many scriptures which assure us that the Lord will fight for us – if only we will let him!  Eg –

  • Exodus14:14 – ‘The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’
  • Deuteronomy 1:30 – ‘The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you.’
  • 2 Corinthians 10:4 – ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.’

Admittedly Paul talks of fighting… but this is in respect of the ‘good fight of faith’ (1 Timothy 6:12) – not one of a personal, draining struggle, but of really relaxing by trusting God in the midst of whatever storm that we’re facing. That is to say, trusting God to bring us through whatever the storm may be, even this current covid-19 pandemic.

 In other words, when faced with difficulties, seemingly insurmountable problems or whatever, we do as scripture urges – we hand the battle over to the Lord who is stronger and wiser than us. Then, and only then we can trust him for the victory… in his timing. (more…)

THE EIGHTH QUESTION

(April 05, 2020) Robert McQuillan shares a fond memory – and brings an Easter missions-centred challenge…

Missionary statesman Dr George Forbes’ Easter article (link below) boldly declares that the heart of every missionary’s message is – Jesus! And goes on to share aspects about that powerful name.

His title reminded me of when we travelled to South Korea back in 1994 to join some two thousand AoG delegates from around the world to celebrate the historic First World AOG Congress in Seoul, hosted by Dr Yonggi Cho, then AoG World Fellowship Chairperson. I also had the privilege of sharing Sheraton Hotel rooms with Dr Andrew Evans, then AoG Australian President.

Each day of the congress, held mainly at Yoido Full Gospel Church, saw outstanding speakers glorifying God, his Son Jesus and the all-powerful Holy Spirit. Later I’d be reporting several superlative quotes by AoG leaders, such as –

  • Andrew Evans: ‘Jesus is the king of glory – everything and everyone is under his throne.’
  • Thomas Trask (USA): ‘When we move under the dynamics of his Spirit and power, it is in order that Jesus is glorified.’
  • Colton Wickramaratne (Sri Lanka): ‘Jesus – we need to be beautified from everything that contaminates.’
  • Peter Kuzmic (Croatia): ‘The greatest power in the world – the God who can change history.’
  • Errol Bhola (Guyana): ‘A big God can do things in a big way.
  • Prince Guneratnam (Malaysia): ‘We need to believe that there is the possibility of our nation – indeed the whole world – coming to know Jesus.’
  • Loren Triplett (USA): ‘Jesus said we ought to pray “Your kingdom come”.’
  • David Yonggi Cho: ‘The sin of greatest concern to me today is disbelief in Jesus.’

World’s largest prayer meeting!
Inspiring yes, but what happened on the Monday after Sunday’s several Holy Spirit anointed services was mind-blowing, so incredible that one would later resort to clichés like: ‘You would have had to been there to experience it for yourself!’ So many Christians from all over had gathered to pray!

Can you image over one million people gathering on the huge, runway-long Yoido Plaza to pray for the world? (more…)

JUST HANGING AROUND?

(March 04, 2020) Robert and Maureen McQuillan challenge encouragingly…

Chatting to friends recently about churches growing in 2020 once again raised the issue of everyone being involved; that we all need to get back to grass-roots discipleship of sharing our faith/ testimony every opportunity that comes our way.

That neither pastor nor pastoral team alone can fully build the local church!

But… the challenge in this ever-so-busy-lifestyle-packed age is: ‘Are we open to the Holy Spirit’s leading to take those opportunities?’

A memory flooded back to me (Robert)… I was in a church office awaiting someone coming for counselling and time was getting on. I had turned to gaze through the tall, wide windows onto the pleasant garden outside when the youth pastor happened by. Stopping, he commented, ‘For some strange reason, Robert, I had the impression you were casually hanging round, waiting for a train!’

Hanging around…
I had smiled. Unexpectedly a line from David Meece’s Gospel Train hit me… ‘All aboard for the gospel train, my seat’s reserved, and my ticket’s paid.’

Then a picture – one of many Christians from different churches waiting at a station called The Church, all confident that they were all okay and would definitely be on board when that ‘good old gospel train to heaven’ eventually came along.

But… they were just standing there… hanging aroundthat’ station – doing nothing, going nowhere. (more…)