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DESPERATE? DON’T PANIC!

(May 13, 2023) Mama Lava caringly shares a great truth…

Desperation will cause us to do crazy things! I have an embarrassing, but poignant, case in point.

Remember when Covid first hit? I saw an opportunity to do something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I would begin baking my own bread. Not only would it be healthier than the alternative, but it would also save money and trips to the grocer. If you remember, the lines outside stores were long and cold, as they allowed only a few people in at a time.

I already had the ingredients I needed. Well, all except one. I needed yeast.

But… my grocery store didn’t have any. I realised many people were thinking like I was, spurred by the fact that bread had become difficult to find. The shelf was completely bare, and there was no assurance it would be restocked any time soon.

I went to Amazon for yeast. Also sold out? Interesting! I looked at my Sam’s Club (warehouse club for wholesale prices on top brands) app. They didn’t have any either. I started to panic a bit.

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ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER TO GROW STRONGER IN FAITH

(May 07, 2023) Carol Round encourages us to bless others.

Meeting over lunch with a Christian friend, I wanted to encourage her during her time of uncertainty and need.

She’d lost her job and was now working at our church as the senior pastor’s administrative assistant. However, the pay was much less than her previous job.

1 Thessalonians 5:11ERV tells us to ‘… encourage each other and help each other grow stronger in faith, just as you are already doing.’

My faith grew through tough times
So, since I could relate, I shared stories of how God had provided for me after I retired almost 20 years ago. After taxes and health insurance, I could barely meet my needs.

I’d obeyed God’s leading when I left my 30-year teaching career to write full-time. But He provided not only for my needs but opened doors of opportunity. Those doors led to ways to supplement my retirement income.

As I continued to share the stories of God’s miraculous provision at just the right times in my life, my friend was amazed. I also knew, without a doubt, that my friend was in the right place, serving in our church. (And I’m also not the only church member who believes our friend is right where God wants her).

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LIVING LIFE – IN A LAND OF HILLS AND VALLEYS

(May 07, 2023) Richard Winter challenges…

Life is a journey – you will go somewhere!

When you were born you started your journey wherever your parents were and began to take you.

My parents never owned a car and so my family never travelled far. But as a boy I loved to read and was fascinated with geography… vicariously I travelled the world, at first with boy books and Indiana Jones type adventures. I guess I was a sort of Short Round.

Then real geography books, as school set the pace. My life would have some new journeys… not just reading those geography books and maps but living life!

Bibles often have maps as the last pages… full of place names, rivers, seas, and mountains. God has an interest in geography and in time.

The Lord told Israel that He would give them a Promised Land, and then described it as – ‘… a land of hills and valleys’ (Deuteronomy 11:11ESV).

When I think about the physical land of Israel, this is an apt description. But it is also of the life Christians live… we will face a land of hills and valleys!

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EVEN BEFORE CREATION, GOD LOVED US

(April 18, 2023) Carol Round encourages us to reflect on the depth of God’s love…

In a recent devotional I read – Billy Graham’s book Hope for Each Day: Words of Wisdom and Faith – Dr Graham opened one day’s devotional with the following words: ‘God’s love did not begin at Calvary.’

The opening paragraph continued. ‘Before the morning stars sang together, before the world was baptised with the first light, before the first blades of tender grass peeped out, God was love.’

God loved us before the creation of the universe! How do we know? Because God is love! Ephesians 1:4NLT tells us ‘Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.’

He chose us before creation
Do you ever think about how much God loves you? Have you ever considered you don’t deserve the fullness of His love? Sometimes, I do.

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‘… MY KING FROM OF OLD!’

(April 18, 2023) Stuart Reynolds reminds us of a coming royal event – and challenges our loyalty to our coming King of kings…

A patient in an asylum was standing on the stool in his room and shouting over and over, ‘I am the king of the universe!… I am the king of the universe!

A nurse came by and tried to calm him down. ‘Who told you, you were the king of the universe?’ she asked. He answered: ‘God did!’ To which another voice from the next room shouted: ‘I did not!’

It’s not just the mentally insane who believe themselves to be ‘masters’ and ‘monarchs,’ but also the morally insane!

However, there is one, for whom becoming ‘King’ is not a delusion but a destiny!

In speaking of that King, I firstly remind you that come May 6 next month at Westminster Abbey in London, King Charles III will be crowned ‘king’ of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth – not ‘king of the universe’ as the patient above, and neither a king without predecessor nor ultimately successor.

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HOW ARE YOU HANDLING HOLY WEEK?

(April 05, 2023) Mama Lava caringly asks a question…

Hi again! How are you all?

I’m honoured that you’ve joined me on the Back Porch today! And I have a sincere question for you… How are you handling Holy Week?

I don’t mean your plans, agendas, and schedules. I am not asking about church services, egg hunts, and family gatherings. I am referring to your inner wellbeing.

Are you conflicted? Do you recognise the joyous meaning of Easter, but find it difficult to overcome the lofty burdens you are currently carrying?

Me too! It can be challenging to focus on victory when we feel threatened by defeat. But God is ministering to me through an unlikely character in the Easter story, the stone.

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WHEN THE CROSS BECOMES AN IDOL…

(April 03, 2023) Geri B challenges…

We have all heard the saying, ‘The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history!’   And unfortunately, this can oft be said that as Christians we ignore the lessons of the Old Testament, the warnings of the New Testament, and repeat the sins of Israel in our day and age.

Let me hone in on one example: that of the elevation of the symbol of the cross not only in traditional denominations, but also increasingly throughout independent and pentecostal churches; which at times overshadows the work of redemption done by Christ through the shedding of His blood  that washed away our sins forever.

I would even go so far as to say that the cross has become a focus for worship, rather than the Lord Jesus Christ! Not deliberately I suspect; but most certainly in a way that detracts from the focus on Christ that God the Father requires.

We are lifting up a cross, and an empty one at that; rather than exalting the one who was crucified on it, and who has the power to grant us life, eternal life!

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DEFEATING LIFE’S GIANTS

(March 28, 2023) Brian Bell shares a timely meditation…

David’s encounter with the giant Goliath is recorded in 1 Samuel 17 and must surely be one of the most well-known scriptural records.

Many of us have profited from the life of David and his experience of the Lord and we are familiar with his many encouraging psalms. In revisiting this topic, I offer some thoughts which, while they may not be new, I personally found them beneficial.

A defiant giant  
The scriptural record in 1 Samuel tells us about Goliath’s defiance of God and also of David who alone came to face him. I see Goliath as a type of spiritual opposition – which is still prevalent today! Even manifested through actual people who may say harsh, unkind, even untrue words to us or about us, just as Goliath did with David.

The apostle Paul tells us we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood but against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 6:12). This tells me ‘flesh and blood’ people are used to be defiant against the Lord’s work, the Lord’s word and the Lord’s people.

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GOD’S MOST DIVINE RECIPES

(March 22, 2023) Mama Lava shares recipes for life…

Hi again!

How are you all? Had a good Saint Patrick’s Day? Baked something special? I had trouble!

Many of you may remember a post I wrote last summer where I told y’all I was struggling in the kitchen. Baking in my new high-elevation home was not going according to plan.

My most divine recipes were not working, epic failures that broke my heart! They didn’t look appetising, smell enticing, or taste right.

A few fun facts about altitude:
Did you know the boiling temperature of water is different in the mountains? Or that thinner air causes bakery items to rise more quickly? (And subsequently fall dramatically?) After wasting time and ingredients, I turned to the internet for suggestions.

I experimented to no avail. Eventually I reached out to see if anyone had any tried-and-true high-altitude recipes for baked goods. I didn’t receive any which, on hindsight, makes sense because most people live closer to sea level.

Finally I broke down and bought a high-altitude cookbook. And let me tell you – it has been a godsend! My first bite into a soft, moist, sweet blueberry muffin nearly made me cry. I had feared I’d have to grow accustomed to dry, crumbly, volcano-shaped baked goods for as long as I lived here.

The new divine recipes made me think
The right recipes for my location made all the difference. I’m sure if I took my new high-elevation cooking instructions and tried them at sea level, it would be a whole other kind of disaster. (Is it strange that I even want to try, just to see what sort of chaos it would create?).

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WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT

(March 06, 2023) Carol Round encourages us to reflect regarding our future…

It wasn’t like any funeral service I’d ever attended. Instead, it was a celebration of a friend’s life – a life well-lived. I can only imagine when she met Jesus face-to-face. Standing there to greet her, I’m sure Jesus was smiling. Then, those words we all hope to hear, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’
 
During the celebration of Terri’s life, there were tears and laughter as six of her remaining adult grandchildren shared their memories of the legacy she left behind. Sharing stories of a grandmother who attended their sporting events and other important milestones, they painted a picture of a woman who also made sure her grandkids knew Jesus.
 
At her bedside before she passed, our pastor and family members related stories at the gathering of Terri’s last words – words of hope and peace with a touch of humour. She was a faithful servant and was ready to meet Jesus.
 
Ready to meet Jesus
In Matthew 25:12-21, Jesus once again uses a parable to answer a question from His disciples. The question begins in the previous chapter with Matthew 24:3 where the disciples ask, ‘Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?’
 
Although Jesus uses two parables to answer their question, the story of the bags of money spells out what we want to hear at the end of our lives. Jesus’ purpose was to remind His disciples to focus on their calling and be ready because they didn’t know the hour of His return. It’s also a reminder for us.

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