Features

RECOVER YOUR LIFE WITH JESUS’ HELP

(February 04, 2021) Carol Round, having experienced an exhausting moving home time, encourages us to relax in Jesus…

Packing! Moving! Unpacking! I questioned, once again, Why did I have so much stuff?’

It’s not the first time I’ve moved in almost 20 years, it’s the sixth! I know others who have moved more times than I have, and I don’t envy them. I’m still trying to recover from my latest move.

I’ll confess! If I’d had my way, I’d still be in the first place I moved to four years before retiring from my 30-year teaching career in 2001. My post-teaching career plans included freelance writing for area newspapers and continuing my 20-year photography business that exploded when I went digital.

But Jesus had a greater plan for me. That’s the reason behind my many moves. Although it took him nine months to convince me to move the first time, I’ve learned to say, ‘I want your will, not mine.’

Obedience means surrendering
Each time I’ve moved, it’s been in obedience to his calling on my life.

I don’t take it lightly. For someone like me, who was used to being in charge, and thought she was in control of her life, it meant surrendering. Even though I still struggle sometimes, I’ve learned his way is the only way to live freely and lightly. (more…)

PROMISES, PROMISES…

(January 29, 2021) Brian Bell shares some precious seed thoughts…

It has been said the scriptures contain 366 promises, one for every day of the year, including a leap year. I have not tried to ‘prove’ that piece of information however, reading in 2 Peter 1: 1-11, I believe the Holy Spirit showed me a some lovely ‘seed thoughts’ which spoke to me about God’s promises.

Nature
Verse 4 ‘…rich and wonderful…’

Rich speaks to me about value these are promises worth having; wonderful in the context here speaks to me about satisfying. Surely, we all appreciate things which have value and bring satisfaction.

I believe Russell Kelso Carter captured the nature of God’s promises in his 1886 hymn Standing on the Promises. The second verse says –
‘Standing on the promises which cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.’

The nature of God’s promises is not to keep us from difficulties or sickness but to be with us in every situation of life. (more…)

JESUS CAN MAKE ALL THINGS NEW… EACH NEW DAY

(January 11, 2021) Carol Round encourages us to reflect on a major choice for 2021…

Revelation 21:5 declares: ‘He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true”.’

The New Year is here! After the stresses of 2020, I doubt anyone wants to cling to the past. With the turning of the calendar to January 2021, sighs of relief were probably expressed by many.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

While I used to, I don’t anymore. My list used to look something like this: lose weight, eat healthier, save more money, and so on. Those are also some of the more common resolutions made each January 1. (By the way, most people fail at keeping their New Year’s resolutions).

I quit making resolutions as I grew in my relationship with Jesus. Looking back, I cannot recall the last time I made a list of things to change in my life. However, I began to choose a focus word for the year. In the past, I’ve prayed and chosen words like trust, focus, and hope. My 2020 word was embrace – embrace more of God in my life. I would write the word at the top of each page in my daily prayer journal. Each time I do, I was reminded of my spiritual growth word for that year. (more…)

GOD SUPPLIES THE VICTORY!

(December 14, 2020) Norman and Margaret Moss share this encouraging Christmas meditation…

Such is the power of inspired scripture that when Charles Jennens gave the libretto of the Messiah to Handel, the composer was so moved and inspired that in 24 days he had completed the oratorio!

Handel said of the Hallelujah Chorus, ‘I did think I did see all heaven before me, and the great God himself.’

Victory lies in scriptureHoly Scripture can do that – and more! We were meditating on Isaiah 9:6…

‘For to us a child is born,to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’

Victory lies in Christ
Proverbs 21:31 came to mind: ‘Victory rests with the Lord’ and we felt the Lord was saying- (more…)

THE PROSPECT: NO ROOM AT THE INN

(December 12, 2020) Brian Bell shares a point from one particular Christmas nativity play …

If you have young children and or grandchildren, then this story may resonate in your heart. For me it is more poignant in the current restricted climate which has prevented us gathering at school this year to see our children or grandchildren in the expected Christmas nativity play.

One aspect of the Christmas story is that of no vacancy for Joseph and Mary at the Bethlehem inn – as Luke 2:7 says, ‘… there was no lodging available for them.‘

I don’t believe the following telling of one particular Christmas nativity play will cause any offence (it’s my adapted version of one that, I understand, was first published in The Baptist Herald, December 1968 in my teen years, and has since been adapted elsewhere in various forms).

The Preparation
Wallace was just nine years old.

Most people in town knew that he had difficulty keeping up in school. Big and a bit clumsy, he was slow in movement and in mind. His class, all of whom were smaller than Wallace, would get a little irritated when Wallace would ask to play games with them. Especially when winning was important and even though they would try to keep Wallace out, he would hang around anyway – not sulking, mind you – just hoping he would be asked to play. (more…)

PUTTING JOY BACK IN THE CHRISTMAS SEASON

(December 6, 2020) Carol Round shares an important biblical-based discipline…

If you ask any child what he or she likes about Christmas, you will probably hear the same answer. In their excitement, most would probably shout the word ‘presents’ or ‘toys.’

Ask any harried parent what he or she likes about Christmas and you’d get a different answer. You would get even another viewpoint if you asked retailers.

The holiday season is on us. Although the advertising blitz has been going on for a few months – or at least it feels that way – I find it hard to get excited. Am I alone? Where has the joy gone?

A season filled with joy
If you asked me to describe a season filled with joy, I would include the following: the company of loved ones, good food, fun, and relaxation, and maybe a few inches of snow. Although my wish list seems simple, for many, this ideal could not be farther from reality.

Too often, the holidays seem to exhaust us because we feel trapped by the shopping, spending, and frenzied preparations when we should be full of joy. A recent national survey revealed that 70 percent of Americans long for less emphasis on gift giving and spending. (more…)

DO YOU LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART?

(November 3, 2020) Carol Round shares an important biblical-based discipline…

‘Make your ear attentive to wisdom. Incline your heart to understanding’ Proverbs 2:2 (NASB) and a recent devotional in The Upper Room about listening with the heart led me to meditate on the writer’s words.

Her husband had retired early because of Parkinson’s disease. Because his voice had become soft and monotone, his wife often had trouble understanding his speech. However, she said, ‘Our adult son always understands what his dad is saying.’

One day she asked her husband the difference between their son’s approach and hers. Her husband replied, ‘Our son listens with his heart.’

The writer realised her preoccupation with household duties meant she wasn’t listening intently enough to hear and understand her husband. She said, ‘His words fell on rocky ground. Our son listened intently with a joyful heart and was able to understand his father.’

Listening for God’s message
The writer began to wonder if she approached scripture in the same way as she did her husband. She wrote. ‘Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I become so preoccupied with my to-do list I don’t listen for God’s message.’ (more…)

IS YOUR TREASURE IN HEAVEN?

(October 10, 2020) Carol Round shares…

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’

Have you ever wondered where this idiom originated? According to the English Language and Usage website, the earliest example is found in Hector Urquhart’s introduction to 1860’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands.

 The intro reads: ‘Practical men may despise the tales, earnest men condemn them as lies, some even consider them wicked; one refused to write any more for a whole estate; my best friend says they are all ‘blethers.’ But one man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure, and what is the standard of value in such a pursuit as this?

Scriptures, more than 100, address the pursuit of worldly possessions. While God doesn’t disapprove of his children owning earthly goods, he doesn’t approve when earthly possessions have us. Heaven is our home. However, we’re often tempted, and forget to resist the temptation to hoard those things that will fade away. Colossians 3:22 reminds us to set our ‘minds on things above, not on earthly things.’

Resisting buyer’s remorse
Who doesn’t love a bargain? There’s nothing like saving money on a purchase, especially when it’s a good deal. But have you ever been tempted to buy something just because it’s a bargain? I have and it’s not because I really needed the item in question. Later, I’ve had buyer’s remorse. (more…)

GOD’S ‘REPAIR’ SHOP

(October 10, 2020) Brian Bell shares…

Recently I’ve been in hospital undergoing surgical procedure. In these days of Covid-19 when we’ve been thankful for nursing/medical staff it gave me a ‘ringside’ seat as I received such excellent care. I believe the skill and knowledge these folk display is a gift from God.

Reflections
My need for a surgical ‘repair’ caused me to reflect on a local BBC television programme titled The Repair Shop. People bring what very often are precious yet old, broken, well-worn deteriorated items for repair – the most recent catching my attention was a RAF chaplain’s WW2 travelling communion set.

A team of master craftsmen and women lovingly, carefully, and painstakingly use their skills to repair and restore these items. In some cases, the repair work is of such high-quality that the owners are brought to tears at the results.

My own recent days of ‘restoration’ had me reflecting on Ezekiel 34: 16, ‘I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away and will bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick.’

(more…)

JESUS: FINDER OF GOGGLES LOST IN THE SEA

(September 10, 2020) Mark Ellis shares an encouraging testimony that reminds that Jesus even cares for ‘lost things’…

In scripture, Jesus tells parables about finding a lost coin, lost sheep, and a lost son.

My wife Sally has found it helpful to pray when somewhat mundane items like car keys or phones have been misplaced, and it seems the Holy Spirit always directs her to their location.

Faith challenged
But her faith was severely challenged recently on a family vacation in San Diego when she lost a pair of swim goggles about 25 yards off shore.

She came in and scanned the Pacific Ocean with a forlorn expression. ‘Why don’t you go out and look for them?’ her daughter-in-law, Rebecca asked.

‘No, that’s a big ocean out there. There’s no way. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack. If you lose something out there it’s gone,’ Sally said. She admitted later she had no faith whatsoever to find the goggles. All she saw was a giant ocean. Even worse, the goggles were dark-coloured and blended with the water and Sally didn’t know if the goggles could float.

An hour later, her son Sam was surfing in a completely different area from the one where his mother lost the goggles. He yelled at his brother, Nate: ‘Hey, Mom lost her goggles. See if you see them.’

Prayer for help
‘They could be at the bottom of the ocean,’ Sam thought to himself. ‘If they do float, maybe I’ll see them. But I would have to be real close, be right on top of them.’ He threw up a prayer to God, ‘Jesus, help me find them.’ (more…)