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FIVE RELIABLE REASONS TO REJOICE THROUGH UNEXPECTED TEARS

(May 18, 2022) Mama Lava shares personally and deeply from her heart…

I got down on my belly, forehead to forehead with him. I petted him and spoke softly to him, reassuring him and telling him how much he was loved. I texted my son and husband to come quick, but I felt his last breath on my cheek before they got downstairs.

I am surprised how hard this hit me. Makali’i (AKA Maka) had just turned 12 and because of his breed, pug mixed with Japanese Chin, he’d already exceeded lifespan expectations and had been slowing down. I knew this was coming, yet is anyone ever really prepared?

(Photo right: Maka, on our first snowy walk, in our new hometown)

As sad as today has been, I have found five reliable reasons to rejoice through the many – oh so many – unexpected tears.

1. God’s Timing
‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die…’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a).

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‘A MAN NAMED EZRA’

(May 07, 2022) Brian Bell challenges us to be a worthy servant like ‘a man named Ezra’ …

With these four almost inconspicuous words contained in chapter 7 of the book of Ezra, we are introduced to the character of Ezra.

The book of Ezra tells us about the return of Jewish exiles from Babylon, beginning with those who returned with Zerubbabel and at a later time with Ezra. Ezra and the other exiles who returned to Jerusalem with him, got there about 13 years before the return of Nehemiah and other exiles, described in the book of Nehemiah.

The primary action carried out by the returning exiles as described in Ezra, was the reconstruction of the temple led by Zerubbabel, Ezra’s role is what I would describe as leading ‘spiritual renewal’ or ‘revival’ while the focus of Nehemiah was the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls which is replete with spiritual applications.

I believe both Ezra and Nehemiah could be said to be men who were ‘directed’ by the Holy Spirit, while those words are not specifically used when speaking of them, I believe it is borne out in the scriptural descriptions given of them. In this meditation I will share only some thoughts about Ezra.

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TITANIC ‘IF ONLYS’

(April 06, 2022) Robert McQuillan shares some April thoughts…

110 years ago on Sunday 14 April 1912, the massive White Star liner RMS Titanicstruck an iceberg. That catastrophe is generally reported as happening at 23.39… Three hours, one minute later, at 2.40am Monday morning the so-called unsinkable, luxury liner was gone in the calmest but coldest seas (28 degrees under).

Only 750 were plucked from the frigid sea. Sadly, 1523 had perished.

 It was indeed, as the Walter Lord‘s prolific 1955 book and subsequent 1958 movie called it, A Night to Remember.

Titanic’s ‘If Onlys’
Among other beliefs – and ‘believed mysteries or conspiracy theories’ – the following have been associated with that horrifying disaster.

If only…

  • The British Board of Trade ruling had called for more lifeboats.
  • The crow’s nest spotters binoculars hadn’t disappeared.
  • Iceberg warnings had been taken more seriously.
  • Bruce Ismay, White Star managing director, hadn’t pressed for a speedier (24k) crossing.
  • First officer Murdoch hadn’t reversed the main engines, handicapping the turning ability.
  • The ship had had a double hull.
  • The watertight doors had been higher than three metres (and there had been more doors).
  • There had been more red flares on board.
  • The mysterious ship nearby had responded to the distress signals
  • The Carpathia hadn’t been so far away to steam to the rescue (four hours away).
  • ‘We’ hadn’t booked on the maiden voyage.
  • Morgan Robertson’s 1898 romantic novel The Wreck of the Titan or, Futility had been taken seriously. (Later this book would be regarded as ‘prophetic’ as it centred on ‘the largest craft afloat… unsinkable, indestructible she carried as few boats as would satisfy the laws’ being sunk by an iceberg. ‘Fourteen years before the greatest civil maritime disaster of all time, this story eerily prefigured the actual calamity’ of the Titanic).

That’s 12 ‘If Onlys.’

Thirteen is often regarded as unlucky. Christians don’t believe in ‘luck’ as we trust God (or should!), but here’s a thirteenth ‘If only’, a sad one…

  • God hadn’t been mocked! Seems it was mockingly, jokingly claimed that even God couldn’t sink Titanic (not that He would have!).
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TREASURED MEMORIES WITH JESUS BRING HOPE

(April 04, 2022) Carol Round challenges us to share good memories…

A recent morning devotional reminded me of treasured memories of my childhood. Growing up in southwestern Louisiana, I spent many hours outdoors on sunny days. Barefoot most of the time, I loved lying in the grass.

On my stomach, I would search for a treasured four-leaf clover. Other times, I’d lie on my back and study the clouds. My imagination ran wild as I spotted a dinosaur shape or maybe a fluffy sheep.

A large mimosa tree at the edge of our property also became a treasured spot to hide among the lacy leaves. I daydreamed about the things I read in books. My thoughts often turned to fantasies of being swept away to a land filled with princes and princesses.

Treasuring the Prince of Peace
Next weekend with joy we’ll worship and celebrate our Saviour, the risen Christ, on Easter Sunday!

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I MIGHT HAVE MISSED THAT MIRACLE!

(April 02, 2022) Mama Lava shares a challenging Easter meditation…    

The very first Easter morning was unique to all that have come since in that it dawned in apparent defeat. Have you ever thought about that?

Jesus’ resurrection had happened, but nobody knew it! His family and followers awoke in grief, unaware of the glorious victory and power that had changed everything. They might have missed the miracle… if not for the faithfulness of Mary, Mary and Salome.

These three women, who had followed and served Jesus daily, woke up in despair. He was gone. They had seen Him beaten, nailed to a cross, ridiculed and confirmed dead. Because of strict Sabbath rules, He’d been buried quickly. There hadn’t been time to properly embalm His body with the customary spices.

Dedicated
But the Sabbath was over, and they would be able to do this one last thing for the One to whom they’d been devoted. So, they got up and prepared to do what they’d done every day – serve Jesus.

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NEHEMIAH – GOD’S CALL TO BUILD THE WALL(2)

(April 1, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh continues her Nehemiah series challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…

The television screen showed tiny Chinese infants, lying on the bare floor like so many scattered rugs. The BBC reporter said, ‘These are the dying rooms of China…’

Deeply moved, my eyes couldn’t leave the scenes before me and I whispered, ‘Lord, somebody needs to do something about this.’

God’s challenge to me
‘Why don’t you do something about this?’ I heard the Lord reply.

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REMEMBERING CALVARY

(April 01, 2022) Brian Bell challenges us to remember and really know that God loves us…

In the United Kingdom last week, we ‘put our clocks forward’ a reminder that for us we are moving into the spring season.

If you’re anything like me, your memory may have good recall in some things, not so good on others. God knows our human tendency to forget and takes steps to help us remember.

One example of this is found in Deuteronomy 15:15ESB: ‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you.’

As we approach this Easter season, I offer some very simple thoughts from this verse to help us remember.

1. A season to remember
In Ecclesiastes 3:1KJV the writer tells us that ‘To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.’

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NEHEMIAH – WHEN GOD CALLS YOU TO REBUILD SOME WALL

(March 14, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh writes most sincerely about human needs and, in this introduction to a special series, brings a challenge to us all…

I’m beginning this series by reminding us of the introduction of the book of a challenged-to-action servant of God, Nehemiah…

Nehemiah 1:2a-11b Message Bible
I asked them about the conditions among the Jews there who had survived the exile, and about Jerusalem.

They told me, ‘The exile survivors who are left there in the province are in bad shape. Conditions are appalling. The wall of Jerusalem is still rubble; the city gates are still cinders.’

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. I mourned for days, fasting, and praying before the God-of-Heaven.

I said, ‘God, God-of-Heaven, the great and awesome God, loyal to His covenant and faithful to those who love Him and obey His commands: Look at me, listen to me. Pay attention to this prayer of your servant that I’m praying day and night in intercession for your servants, the People of Israel, confessing the sins of the People of Israel. And I’m including myself, I and my ancestors, among those who have sinned against you.

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KEEP STANDING ON THE PROMISES

(March 11, 2022) Brian Bell shares a great encouragement  …

We’re already halfway through the third month of 2022!

Despite the general unrest and uncertainty which still prevails across the world, I believe the encouragement from God’s word is to keep standing on His promises.

Let me draw you back to the words God spoke to Moses in Exodus 33:14 – ‘My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.’

Now I am sure we would not be envious of the task God asked Moses to carry out. To go back to his place of failure in Egypt, face Pharaoh and bring God’s people out of captivity! It was because God knew the enormity and difficulty of the task that He spoke this promise to Moses.

I have three little thoughts of encouragement to suggest. God’s word is –

A Personal Promise My presence’
(i) Personal in its source
In Romans chapter 1, the apostle Paul lists the many ways in which sin has impacted on humanity and included in the list, he uses this phrase ‘break their promises.’

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THE WALL IN FRONT OF ME

(March 07, 2022) Mama Lava shares a precious meditation…                           

‘If these walls could talk, I wonder what secrets they’d tell’ – Gayle Forman.

Do you ever find yourself starring at the wall? I’ve been staring at the one in front of me for several minutes. I’m sure it could say many things if it could speak, but right now, I’m relying on its quiet strength.

My wall (right) – the wall in front of me – has witnessed many conversations marked by an array of emotions. The myriad of words do not echo in the wall like they do in my head. The sound has been absorbed and silenced.

The wall in front of me stands straight and tall, unaffected by the frenetic energy on either side. It divides the chaos and is still. It steadies me.

This wall in front of me is pierced. I’ve removed the art that has adorned it for the last few years and all that remains are a few protruding screws and some nail holes. Somehow, it is still stately.

As constructs of the mind, walls get a bad rap. They are said to represent confinement and stand in the way of progress. Yet, I find solace in mine.

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