Features

LIVING LIFE IN VIEW OF ETERNITY

(January 16, 2020) Carol Round challenges…

A recent post by a Facebook friend posed this question: ‘Do you suppose our life here on earth is a training program for eternity?

After thinking about her question, I responded, ‘Yes, I absolutely believe this, Jan! I am so grateful God doesn’t stop loving us when we mess up.

He takes our messes and turns them into a message… a masterpiece to glorify him!

We can try to hide our messes from God but he knows! This anonymous quote says it all: ‘Our life here on earth is going to determine what our eternity is going to be like. God knows the real truth about each of our lives. We may fool our friends about our goodness, but we can’t fool God.’

We can’t fool God
If we think we can hide or run away from God, we’re not fooling anyone. Remember the very first couple who tried to hide from him. Adam and Eve, after eating the fruit from the forbidden tree, had their eyes opened to their nakedness.

Trying to hide their nudity, they covered themselves with fig leaves. Then, when God came looking for them in the garden, they hid from him.

‘One of the greatest truths in life which we all know, but which we all must come to learn, is that there is no escape from God,’ says Pastor Steven J. Cole. ‘Like fugitives, we may run, but we cannot ultimately hide from the God who penetrates even the darkness with the gaze of his light. If we manage to dodge him in this life, we must still stand exposed before him on that fearful Day of Judgment. There is no place to hide from God.’

Staying focused on God
We take for granted our next breath. (more…)

THE GOD OF PARDON, PRESENCE AND PROVISION

 (January 14, 2020) Brian Bell reflects on David’s life experiences

Although I try not to give too much attention to it, it occurs at the same time every year, on January 1 – my birthday – New Year’s Day; it’s one of those more memorable dates in our calendar.

This birthday I was reminded of Psalm 37:25 where David says, ‘I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.’

The Message puts it this way: ‘I once was young, now I’m a greybeard – not once have I seen an abandoned believer, or his kids out roaming the streets.’

While I’m sure this verse wasn’t related to David’s birthday, he reflects on his past: ‘I have been young’ but also on his present ‘…now I am old.’

David’s life experiences – four snapshots

Irrespective of the age range of those who  read this little meditation, whether we class ourselves as ‘young’ or ‘old’, at the most basic level this verse speaks to me about David’s experience of life. It’s in the natural progress of life from birth to its end that we too acquire experience.

Here are four ‘snapshots’ from David’s life experience –

1. Time as a shepherd –
Spent in the hills around Bethlehem and I believe most likely the time when he formed an intimate relationship with the Lord; when he composed many of his ‘songs’ or ‘psalms’ as we know them. (more…)

DARE ASK ME FOR A SIGN

(December 10, 2019) Brian Bell reflects

It’s almost Christmas when Christians and churches celebrate the birth of Jesus who would become the Saviour of the world.

We’ll sing Christmas carols and choruses and refer to those scriptures that come naturally to mind at this time… from the gospels of Matthew and Luke and also Isaiah 7:14NLT, ‘All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).’

As I mediate on this Old Testament verse the background of Isaiah 7 comes to mind – God prompting Ahaz, the king of Judah, who was in a difficult situation to ask him for a sign… ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want –’ (Isaiah 7:11 (NLT).

Now that’s an amazing dare by God – and, equally amazing, when Ahaz didn’t respond was God’s choice of a ‘difficult sign’ (v14).

I wonder… If God were to ask you to ask him for a sign – and you didn’t hesitate to ask – what would come to your mind?

This leads me to several ‘little seed thoughts’…

A Personal Sign
Reading verses 1- 6 of this chapter we get a fuller picture of the situation in which Ahaz found himself. Facing attack and a siege of Jerusalem, in addition to fear he was likely struggling with doubt. And God always knows how best to answer the doubts of his people – remember how God spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19) and how the Lord Jesus dealt with Thomas (John 20). (more…)

MARY’S KEY – WILLINGNESS

(December 10, 2019) Geraldine Brandt reminds us of a special lady who willingly trusted God to fulfil his word…

Almost Christmas! May I bring a particular aspect to the Christmas story – the biblical Mary that I see!

When we think of Christmas we naturally think of Jesus Christ –

  • Born of Mary, a virgin
  • Born in a manger
  • Born to die on a cross for the sins of the world.

And that’s as it should be at Christmas for it’s the real Christmas message way beyond the tinsel, sparklers, crackers and gifts! There is no greater message to be proclaimed, nor any other focus that should be given.

But… can I add that one of the greatest messengers of this truth is the mother of Jesus, Mary herself.

Mary does not preach this message, she lives it!

When we take time to go through the gospels and study this woman of God we find a very humble woman, great in faith, persistent in prayer and steadfast in her trust in God, specifically trusting that what he said about her son, Jesus, would come to pass.

Willing to obey
From the very beginning – Mary’s encounter with Gabriel, the archangel of God Most High – we see a woman who is willing to do the will of God, and to do that will without fanfare, complaint, or requested recognition.

In Luke 1:29-37 we read the conversation Mary had with Gabriel and her willing acceptance of God’s plan for her life – ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered.  ‘May it be to me as you have said’ (v38). (more…)

ARE YOU SEEKING THE LORD’S PURPOSE?

(November 13, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to seek God’s purpose for us in life…

‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails’ declares Proverbs 19:21.

Never doubting God
In 1975, I graduated from college and was immediately hired to teach in the public school system. While I never doubted my life’s calling as a teacher, God steered me from majoring in elementary education to that of a secondary educator.

And, because I was surprised by this unexpected turn in my path, I’ve never doubted it was God’s plan for me all along.

During my 30-year teaching career, God repeatedly reminded me through the relationships I had with my students, both during and after their high school years, that his purpose had prevailed.

Even after my retirement from education, God has used me to encourage, and to minister to, my former students.

Redirected by the Holy Spirit
But while I had post-retirement plans, God had a greater one. (more…)

LIGHT OF THE WORLD ILLUMINATES THE DARKNESS

(October 22, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

My neighbours were excited to show me the photos and video of the ten tiny turtles they’d rescued. They’d observed the mother turtle laying her eggs in their yard sometime in mid-summer.

To prevent predators from digging up the eggs, the couple placed an old metal crate over the site and marked it with a fake flower. When I enquired about their new yard ornament on one of my daily walks, I learned about the eggs and was excited about the approaching due date.

Days, weeks and months passed until the couple decided they would dig up the nest. They knew the eggs should have already hatched.

Digging in the darkness
Using a trowel, the couple began digging up the dirt. Roots impeded their progress, but eventually they rescued the hatchlings. As dusk gave away to early darkness, they needed a flashlight to wash the small reptiles.

After removing the dirt from the tiny bodies, the couple placed each turtle into a plastic container. Walking to the nearby lake, they lowered the container into the water to allow the turtles to swim out on their own. The couple thought their rescue mission was over.

However, the turtles kept swimming to the shore where the couple’s wife was shining a flashlight. Then, it dawned on her that the turtles were attracted to the light. Turning the flashlight’s beam toward the lake and moving it gradually away from the shore did the trick. The ten siblings swam away.

The creation of light
Hearing the story of the baby turtles following the light, I was reminded of the many times ‘light is mentioned in scripture. In John 8:12, Jesus tells the Pharisees, ‘I am the light of the world.’ (more…)

FORGET THE FORMER THINGS

(September 20, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Forget the past? Sometimes it’s easier said than done. In fact, I would say that it’s impossible to let go of the times we’ve been lost in the wilderness – unless we look up.

What does it mean to look up? Look up and seek… seek God, seek his forgiveness, seek his guidance, and seek his hand. Let him lead you from the past into his presence.

God’s presence washes over us like a fresh, spring rain, soothing our weary soul, reviving our spirit, and infusing us with hope. His hope, his strength, and his love can lead us from a life of despair to delighting in him.

Delight yourself in the Lord
In Psalm 37:4, David writes, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.’

Many believe, especially new Christians, that God will give us anything our hearts desire if we have enough faith. But, as we mature in our faith, we begin to understand what is important in life and to our heavenly Father. (more…)

BE A LIGHT IN A BROKEN WORLD

(August 27, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to let our Christianity shine forth in a needy world round us…

In one of the ‘civil’ social media posts, I responded with the challenge that we need more Christ-followers who reach out to the –

  • Hurting
  • Disenfranchised
  • Lost
  • Lonely
  • Angry
  • Mentally ill.

Warming a pew each Sunday doesn’t make you a Christian
Jesus left the building (the church) and spent time with the very people mentioned above. If we claim to be a Christian, we need to be following in his footsteps. Kindness begets kindness. Apathy breeds apathy. Hate breeds hate.

Each one of us can make a difference, one person at a time.

 

 

Reach out – make a difference (more…)

SPEAKING PERSONALLY

(August 23, 2019) Brian Bell shares a meaningful, encouraging meditation straight from his heart…

The inspiration for this short meditation is drawn from my recent readings in Joshua and Judges (NTL) –and in particular Joshua 24:3, ‘Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the leaders who outlived him – those who had personally experienced all that the Lord had done for Israel.’

Also Judges 2:7, ‘…the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him – those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.’

Personal experience of faith
Perhaps you remember where you were when you came to faith in the Lord Jesus… for me it was a very simple ‘act’ of  prayer in my bedroom as a young teenager (which I recorded in the flyleaf of a Bible) – very much in contrast to the apostle Paul’s Damascus road encounter!

Many years ago I recall Reverend Sam Workman talking about those who were ‘walking on the clean side of the broad road (that would describe where I was) but whatever our background and where, when and how we came into salvation our personal experience will have been different.

It is very clear the leaders God raised up for his people were people of faith – just like us, they were not without their flaws, but they were those who had a personal experience of faith… as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us!

As I consider this aspect, it is clear that in relation to faith there are – (more…)

MEANT TO RUN YOUR OWN RACE

(July 17, 2019) Carol Round encourages us to keep running the Christian race…

In my early 40s, I began competing in 5K races. I never considered myself an athlete. But, I’ve always had a competitive edge, less so since I’ve grown spiritually. I’ve learned it’s not about who wins but doing my best with my God-given gifts.

During the four years I raced competitively, my time steadily improved. At first, it was about beating others in my age bracket to the finish line. I won some trophies and medals, which now mean very little to me. At the beginning of my racing years, I focused on my competition – those women in my age bracket. When I did, my time didn’t improve much.

Then, I learned a secret to persevering and not giving up. I began to focus on a goal ahead of me on the race course. I’d locate a tree, a utility pole or some other object in sight. As I passed each goal, I set another one, leading me to the finish line and improved race times.

Focus is the key! Focusing on my personal best instead of the competition was the answer to winning. (more…)