Thursday, 12 December 2013

Like A Tree

Read a wonderful passage in the Bible this morning from Jeremiah 17:

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit." ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

Isn't this amazing? If we trust the Lord, He can and will help us weather any storm, and not only weather it, but He will help us to continue to trust Him and to bear fruit through it. If we trust Him, we needn't fear when trials and storms of life come, for He is with us!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Edna and Ellis: A Response to Suffering

 Hi all,

I read this excerpt in a book I've been reading lately, By Searching by Isobel Kuhn. While I have yet to finish this book I have found it so far a really edifying and helpful autobiography to read, so I highly recommend that if you ever have a chance, you get ahold of a copy and read it! This particular story of one missionary girl and her spouse really helped me to see how to respond to suffering.

"Edna met Ellis when he was on his first furlough, and found him her ideal. He was a young man of deep devotion and consecration, and together they went to China to the South Gate section of Nanking city.

The next year they went for their vacation to beautiful Kuling, a famous mountain resort, where there is a pool and good swimming, also many lovely walks.

One morning they had decided on a swim - both were expert swimmers. As they left their tent they heard a cry from the pool. Ellis immediately ran and dived in to the rescue- a young missionary had caught a cramp and gone down. He was successful and saved her life, but he himself disappeared. Then Edna dived in to search for Ellis. As time dragged on and she could not find him, one can imagine the terror and anguish of her feelings. Theirs had been an ideal and wonderful union. Diving, searching, she did not notice that her body was being bruised and battered against rocks. Ellis - that was all she thought of. Finally, she saw his body washed up behind a little waterfall. Again she dived, reached him, dragged his body with her and got it to shore. But life had gone.

Exhausted she sank on a tree stump and covered her face with her hands. 

A few minutes later she happened to look up and saw some Chinese...standing terrified with the dead man before them. Quickly she approached them and explained that the body on the ground was not her Ellis - that he was safe with God; and she preached Christ to them.

Edna's own body had taken such a severe beating that she was sent to the hospital and later advised to take a short furlough. Ellis's insurance money was enough to bring her to the Firs for the summer,and the Conference Council had asked her to lead the young people's meetings. We never knew what it was costing her to set aside her daily heart-break and be our cherry, radiant Bible teacher. Years later Mrs Whipple told me how she would go to the Council and tell them she could not continue, but they would promise to pray for her, and back she would come to us." ~ By Searching by Isobel Kuhn, p.37-38

This made me ask myself, how do I respond to trials in my life, and most, if not all, are nothing compared to what Edna had to go through! Do I become wrapped up in self-pity, or do I see even the trials as a means of talking to others about the Lord and demonstrating that He can give me a joy and peace that is beyond comprehension? This highlighted to me yet again how important it is that we be asking the Lord to use us through our trials to point others to Him, and that we do not know what impact our lives may be having upon others. This was a real challenge to me! I pray that were I faced with such an ordeal, the Lord would enable me to look to Him first and foremost!


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Some Thoughts on Trials and Anxiety...

Hi all!

Just thought I'd share some thoughts on trials and anxiety. They're only my own little ponderings, so be prepared to test everything by scripture dear readers!

You see, I am slowly learning that trials take different shapes in people's lives. That should be obvious, but somehow it is so easy to think that "trials" must be the bigger issues in life...a sudden tragic death, cancer, divorce and so on and to think that if our trials seem somehow lesser than these that God isn't that concerned about it, and so we shouldn't complain, as people have it much worse than us. On the flip side, if you are going through extremely difficult times it is easy to become wrapped up in self-pity and to think that everyone else has it much easier than you, when in reality we all go through trials of varying degrees. True, some people may experience trials on a greater magnitute, and the significance of their pain cannot be ignored, but even in the seemingly smaller trials (e.g. a desired relationship that never comes to fruition, the long absence in seeing a family member, an unexpected hiccup in your plans...even missing a bus!) ALL are important to God, are part of His plan, and as such we should bring them before Him. We shouldn't neglect to pray about them even though they may to us pale in significance when compared to what others may go through. What do you think? Maybe you have yet to face any major life crisis, but you never know what trials await you around the corner, so why not be prepared now, by cultivating a life of prayer for all of life's concerns rather than being anxious. I say this to myself as much as anyone!!!
"Nothing is too big and nothing is too little to spread before the Lord". ~ A.W. Pink
Here is a neat clip on anxiety by A.W. Pink that I thought I'd share:


This really highlights our need for prayer in times of trouble.

He also brings up some interesting suggestions as to how to counteract anxiety in our lives:

1. By begging the Holy Spirit to grant us a deeper conviction as to its enormity.
2. By making it a subject of special and earnest prayer that we may be delivered from it.
3. By watching it's beginning and as soon as we detect it, lifting up our heart to God and asking Him for deliverence from it.
4. By frequently meditating upon God's goodness, power and sufficency.

What do you think? Do you find doing these things help? Certianly I have lately been realising the value of number four for the first time, it is invaluable how much reading good Christian literature about the goodness and soverignty of God can help you!


Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Comfort Zone on "Why is there Evil?"

Saw these really good videos on YouTube. They really provided food for thought. The first one reminded me of one of my favourite ever quotes by R.C. Sproul: "Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once and He volunteered." And the second one really helped me to see yet again how we should reallly be seeing the problem of evil as being within us and not just simply external things or "big" evil events like murder and rape - in God's eyes, covetness and lying are evil too. I'd love your thoughts on what these two videos brought up!






Also, apologies for the lack of posting here lately, I don't have an excuse but if you have been going through a hard time lately and would like some spiritual encouragement on a slightly more regular basis, I try to update the Facebook page for this blog frequently, so you can go there (click here).

God bless!


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sunshine Behind the Storm #3: And I thought life was supposed to be easy...

Here is the third post in the blog series Sunshine Behind the Storm! Anna Bachinsky blogs over at Daughter by Design, where she writes especially concerning singleness. She has allowed me to put a wonderful post she did here on this blog for you all. To see the original post on her blog, you can go here: http://daughterbydesign.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/and-i-thought-life-was-supposed-to-be-easy-2/

Praying that this blesses you as much as it did me when I first read it! 

http://rejoiceinthelordalwaysrejoice.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Sunshine%20Behind%20the%20Storm

I used to think that just because I was Christian life would automatically be “easy.”After all God Almighty, Creator of the universe was on MY side… everything I went through would be a piece of cake, right?

My life would be full or rainbows, butterflies, and happy feelings.

I’d wake up feeling abundant joy every morning and go to sleep with a huge smile on my face every night.

Life would always make sense.

My prayers would always get answered just like I wanted them to.

And I’d never have to go through one more valley again.

But that is so far from the truth.

No one gets a “get out of hard stuff in life” card. Especially not followers of Christ.

But before God taught me that trials would be the greatest blessings in my life I used to think that they were the worst things that could happen to me.

I used to even think that they were some kind of spiritual “sign” from God. That I was not being a “good enough Christian”. That I was doing something wrong. That I somehow deserved them and if only I fixed whatever it was I was doing I would live a problem-free life.

But that’s obviously not the case. Bad things happen to good people. It’s a part of life that we must all come to terms with. The sooner the better.

And when I think about people who lived hard lives one person in particular comes to mind. One very important person. A person I know very well. Jesus.

And the interesting this? He CHOSE to come down on earth to live that life here. He left the glories of heaven, the thousands of angels constantly exalting Him, the streets of gold… to live in a dark, broken world where he would be despised, rejected, and crucified… Wow. Who from us would choose to do the same? Leave the comforts and glory of heaven for a cruel world that wouldn’t ever understand who it is that walked among them? I don’t know if I’d be able to do it. But Jesus did.
As Jesus’ followers… I think that’s what God meant when He says in His Word that we must pick up our cross and follow Him.

Our cross is the life that He has planned for us to live.

A life where we become more like Christ every day.

A life where we serve Jesus by serving others (just like Jesus did).

For Jesus, His ultimate goal and purpose in life was to pick up that cross… to carry it to Calvary… to be crucified on it. That cross is what we often think about when we come to Jesus in prayer. When we remember His sacrifice for our sins. It is because of Jesus hanging on that cross  that we all have the free gift of salvation.

Often times when I think about “picking up my cross” it makes me cringe. Who wants to do that? It seems so hard. So burdensome. I mean, doesn’t God want me to enjoy this life? To be happy?
The answer to that is “yes”, of course! God originally created humans (Adam & Eve) for His enjoyment and for companionship. But we all know where the story goes from there…

And now that we are redeemed through what Christ did on the cross we can all have a relationship with Him and we can enjoy the life He has given us… but that doesn’t mean that life is going to be easy. After all, we still live in a sinful, fallen world.

And one of God’s purpose for us in this life is so that through constant communion with Him and His Word we will become more like Christ every day.

So we can shine His light to the dark and broken world.

So we can be His hands and feet to hurting people.

So we can live a life of servanthood, just like Jesus did.

And becoming like Jesus requires going through things Jesus went through. It requires leaving a life of comfort and living life like Jesus did.

I read this quote by Rick Warren recently Since God intends to make you like Jesus, He will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.”

Honestly when I read this at first, I thought to myself “Wow… it all makes sense now. The heartaches and pain I’ve been through. The hardships. The rejections. The loneliness. Everything.”

And it made me realize that maybe I’m on the right track in life… that maybe this is exactly where God wants me to be.

Going through a few trials that test my faith.

Going through a period of loneliness that makes me depend on Him alone.

Not knowing what exactly lies ahead so that I can trust Him and His plan for my life over my own. So I can say “His Will be done, Not Mine”…

There are two ways you can look at the challenges in life. You can look at them as problems that you don’t want to deal with OR you can look at them as opportunities. Opportunities where you can learn to grow more like Jesus.

Think about the fruits of the spirit, which we should all develop and possess after growing in Christ and becoming more like Him.

Love… how will you truly learn to love until God puts people into your life that are difficult to love?

Joy…how will you learn to have joy until you find yourself in a place where you’re not even happy with circumstances in life and your joy can only come from God alone?

Peace…how can you learn to have peace until you are put into a stressful situation where all you want to do is stay up all night and worry + be anxious about your life?

Patience… how can you learn to be patient unless God gives you something in life that you really want but you have to wait on His perfect timing for?

Gentleness… how can you learn to be gentle unless you find yourself in a situation where you are arguing with someone and are tempted to say harsh words that you can’t take back?

Self-control… how can you learn to have self-control until you first have something you want to indulge in that will require you to have self-control to restrain yourself from doing it?

Faith… how can you learn to have faith until you find yourself in a place where all your options are gone.. your first plan, your back-up plan… and every plan after that and  you can only trust in God alone to get you through?

Perseverance… how can you learn to persevere with Christ until you fail or fall a few times… and need to get back up again and keep on trying?

When you start looking at challenges in life as opportunities… things change.

Temptations become opportunities to practice self-control.

Waiting becomes an opportunity to practice patience.

Stress becomes an opportunity to practice peace.

Discouragement becomes an opportunity to practice joy.

No, the situation doesn’t change. What’s going on in your life doesn’t all of a sudden disappear. But you will handle it differently. With a better attitude. With a purpose. And in the end… it will help you become exactly who  you want to be: like Jesus.

If you’re going through a difficult time in life right now don’t be discouraged.

Look at whatever you’re going through as an opportunity.

An opportunity to grow, to learn, to become more like Christ. Don’t waste this opportunity no matter how hard it may be, trust God with it. And don’t forget… the bigger the storm, the bigger the testimony!

Keep on holding on to Christ and following Him… and He’ll bring you through to the other side and help you learn a few things along the way. :) Be blessed! - Anna… ♥

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” – James 1:2

~~~

Thank you so much Anna for letting me post your blog article here! God bless you as you serve Him!


 

Monday, 4 November 2013

All Our Afflictions are Appointed by Our Loving Heavenly Father! ~ Arthur Pink

How blessed I am to have some friends on Facebook who are willing to point me to the Lord! :D I certianly need to read more by these writers once I have time! :)

All our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father! ~ Arthur Pink

"I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for You are the one who has done this!" Psalm 39:9


Realizing that it was the chastening hand of God upon him, David refrained from murmuring. It was not the silence of sullenness, but of meekly acquiescing to the rod. When we are in our right minds, we shall have nothing to object against God's dealings with us, or dispute with them. God is sovereign in the acts of His providence--and therefore an important branch of our obedience unto Him lies in suffering His will, as well as in doing His will. That obedience is evidenced by refusing to repine against Him by the utterance of any impatient words.

Shall vile dust and ashes censure the providential dealings of the Most High God, or impugn His goodness? Let all God's treatment of us be both wondrous and righteous in our eyes.

"If our hope is in God for a happiness in the eternal world--then we can well afford to reconcile ourselves to all the dispensations of Divine providence concerning this world." (Matthew Henry)

The consideration that all our afflictions are appointed by our loving heavenly Father, should silence all complaints. It did so with David. He knew they came not by chance, but according to divine appointment.

After months of acute suffering, and still in agony of body, the last words of John Calvin were, "Lord, You grind me to powder, but it suffices me because it is Your hand."

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it!" Hebrews 12:10-11


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Leslie Ludy ~ Even Fleas are From God!

 From Sacred Singleness by Leslie Ludy (p.107-109):
"Precious sisters, let us never profane the sacred sacrifice of our King by seeking the benefits of Christ without the cross! Just as He gave up His life, so we are called to give up ours. It doesn't matter what makes us happy or what makes us feel good. Yes, the way is narrow and rocky and causes us pain, but that's the very road Jesus walked - and may it be our greatest privilege and joy to follow in His steps.

As I've said before, on the other side of sacrifice is aways joy. Jesus obtained the reward of His suffering after He had conquered sin and death, and sat down at the right hand of His Father. That's His pattern. First suffering - then reward. As 1 Peter 5:10 says, 'May the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you' (emphasis added). And Paul reminds us, 'God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love' (Hebrews 6:10). when we lay our all on the altar, no matter how painful the process is, we can be confident that there are unspeakable treasures of joy awaiting us on the other side of the suffering...No suffering that we embrace in obedience to Jesus Christ ever ends in misery and death. That wasn't Jesus' story, and it won't be our story when we follow in His steps. God specializes in happily ever after. Just read the end of the Bible and you'll see what I mean...

No matter what our situation in life, we should not go around being 'ticked off' about it. Rather, God tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, 'In everything give thaks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' And in Philippians 2:14. 'Do all things without complaining and disputing.' If we are feeling angry, unhappy, miserable, or ticked off about being single (or any other circumstance in life), we shouldn't merely admit it and call it honesty. Rather, we should admit it and call it what it is - sin. We should ask God to forgive us and cleanse us by the power of His blood. And we should lean upon His grace to turn and walk another way, joyfully embracing whatever path God has placed on us, just like Jesus, who endured the cross...

In Authentic Beauty I wrote about Corrie ten Boom being challenged by God to give thanks for the fleas that inflicted her prison cell. She told her sister, 'Betsy, there is no way that even God can make me thankful for a flea.' But once she began rejoicing in the fleas, she soon found that these annoying little insects truly were a gift from God. The guards were so disgusted by them that they avoided going to check the sisters' prison cell every night. Betsy and Corrie were free to read their Bible, pray, sing and witness to other prisoners - something that would have been impossible had the guards come to check their cell. It was like a little taste of heaven on earth, and it would not have been possible without the fleas."
What a challenge this is! Of course, it makes more sense when read in the context of the whole book, but I was really challenged through it today to stop complaining so much about the trials of life but rather to look to Christ who endured the cross for me! Praying that this would help you too, dear brother or sister in Christ!


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Tonight it is the night before one of my exams and yet I am on here writing a post. Part of me thinks I must be crazy, and yet part of me knows I need to write tonight. For it's been "one of those days" where trials seem to crop up at the worst of times. And so my mind has been so unfocussed from my exams and yet I know that the Lord will help me face tomorrow as He does every day. 

Basically, I felt I need to write this post to remind myself that God is faithful, even on the hard days! I feel so hypocritical saying that when I - sinner that I am! - doubt this truth time and time again, despite Him proving that He is on a daily basis. Have you heard the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness? Well, I was reminded of it today, and the words are so true! Here it is:

Great is Thy Faithfulness


 “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” 
“Great is Thy faithfulness!“
 Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
 “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Chorus

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

What wonderful words, and a reminder I really needed to hear today! The Lord really has provided all I need and I need to look to Him with an attitude of thankfulness rather than a complaining one. 

It's amazing also how the Lord can at times prepare us for a tricky day ahead.This morning, I read these wonderful words from Martyn Lloyd-Jones' book Spiritual Depression (a book I highly recommend you read if you haven't already!):

"We are to rejoice because it is proof of our faith. The moment we become Christians the devil is particularly concerned to get us down, and he ahs no more successful way of doing that than to make us miserable, or to make us suffer from what Charles Lamb has described as 'the mumps and measles of the soul'. Such Christians are like marasmic children, not growing, not manifesting health and vigour; and any Christian in that condition is more or less a denial of his own faith, and Satan is pleased. For that reason he is particularly concerned to produced this condition in us and there is no end to the ways in which it may affect us, and in which it may show itself in us...
The good news, of course, is it doesn't end there - for the Lord is in control even over Satan and so Satan's power is limited. And even if we do reach a low point like that, the Lord is with us always. Watch this space for more quotes from this book. :) 

Anyway, I'll leave it there and get back to my revision now that I'm feeling re-engergised spiritually! Thank you heavenly Father!

God bless!


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

More Than You Can Handle? ~ Joni Eareckson Tada

Another brilliant devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada!

More Than You Can Handle?


"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  
1 Corinthians 10:13

Every once in a while 1 Corinthians 10:13 bugs me. At those times I'm prone to think God couldn't expect from me what He does from others because mine is a "different story." I especially thought that way when I was lying on my hospital bed: How can You be putting me through all this? It's more than I can bear - even with Your help, God!

The truth is, my story is not different. Neither is yours. My quadriplegia hasn't earned me any Purple Heart medals with God. My bouts with pressure sores and lung problems haven't exempted me from 1 Corinthians 10:13. If the Lord allows crushing hardships to pile on top of all the other baggage that goes with being disabled, I can't whine. It never can be said of me, "She has good reason to let off steam every now and then."

Whenever I entertain stubborn, stiff-necked thoughts of resentment, I've noticed I don't go forward but backward. The problems aren't easier to handle; they become harder. I must remember Hebrews 12:4 which warns complainers, "...you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." What a good reminder! I'm not a martyr; nobody's drawn and quartered me, laid me on a rack, sawed me asunder, or run me through with a sword - so things can't be that bad.
__________________________

True, 1 Corinthians 13 may bug you when you think you must disobey because the temptation is too great. But remember, we can never be forced to disobey. We don't sin because we have to; we sin because we want to.

~~~

God bless!

 

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Quote by James Smith

Hi all,
Yes, here is another amazing quote I read today, which makes me realize that it's about time I went and actually read books/sermons etc. by these amazing writers rather than simply being content with quotes. What a wonderful reminder this is!

James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!"

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose!" Romans 8:28

All things? Yes! Everything that happens to the Christian is directed and overruled by God's special Providence for his good! The experience may be very bitter--it may lay him very low and try him to the core; it may keep him in the dust for a long time. But it will do him good--not only in the end, but while it lasts.

Believer, your present trial is for your good. Nothing could be better for you! You may not see it now; you may even feel as if you never could think so--but the time is coming when you will bless God for it.

You love God--and God loves you with an infinite and eternal love. You came to the cross as a poor sinner--and you looked to the Lord Jesus to be your perfect Savior. This proves that you have been called according to God's purpose. You are one of God's beloved ones, and as such--you may have the assurance that all things . . .light and darkness, health and sickness, hatred and love, prosperity and adversity, life and death--will work together for your good!

Dark clouds bring rich blessings--and sharp winters introduce fruitful springs. Even so, sore troubles often precede the sweetest consolations. Your present affliction--whether it is . . .sickness of body, trouble of mind, bereavements, losses, crosses, or whatever else --is working for your good. It will work for good in the future, and it is working for good now. While your heart is bleeding, and you are tempted to think that all is against you--all is working together for your good!

Dear Lord, I do not see how my affliction can be good for me. But help me, Lord, to accept it as such by faith--so that I may receive what You have for me through it.

"We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope!" Romans 5:3-4
 ~~~
 God bless!

J.R. Miller Quotes on Suffering

I saw these quotes by J.R. Miller. They really help us to gain a better perspective on suffering ~ I must start reading some of his writings! Praying that it blesses you today! :)

Help for the Day ~ J.R. Miller 

"Cast your burden on the LORD--and He shall sustain you" Psalm 55:22

The promise is not that the Lord will remove the load we cast upon Him, nor that He will carry it for us--but that He will sustain us so that we may carry it!

He does not free us from duty--but He strengthens us for it.

He does not deliver us from conflict--but He enables us to overcome.

He does not withhold or withdraw trial from us--but He helps us in trial to be submissive and victorious, and makes it a blessing to us.

He does not mitigate the hardness or severity of our circumstances, taking away the difficult elements, removing the thorns, making life easy for us--but He puts Divine grace into our hearts, so that we can live sweetly in all the hard, adverse circumstances!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness!" 2 Corinthians 12:9

~~~ 

Another amazing quote by J.R. Miller:

"God does not give joy to His children by making them incapable of suffering. Divine grace makes the heart all the more tender, and the capacity for loving all the deeper; hence it increases rather than lessens the measure of sorrow when afflictions come...

But the joy of the Christian is something which lies too deep to be disturbed by the waves and tides of earthly trouble. It has its source in the very heart of God. Sorrow is not prevented by grace, but is swallowed up in the floods of heavenly joy...God's joy is not the absence of sorrow, but divine comfort overcoming sorrow — sunshine striking through the black clouds, transfiguring them! 'You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy!' John 16:20."


God bless!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads summary:
Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How, ' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long---and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?' In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted ... a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved --- by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all.

My Opinion:
At first I was a bit skeptical of this book, due to the style in which it was written which felt a bit "New Age" for my liking. This would be the main critcism I have: her writing is very different, almost more like poetry and so it can be hard to read and understand at times. However, I am so glad that I didn't put it down but perservered because as I grew used to Ann Voskamp's unique writing style, I realized I had found a really deep and powerful read. This book really is aimed at Christians who are going through a hard time and encouraging us to think more deeply about why God allows suffering. Rather than looking at the negative in life, she encourages us to have an attitude of thankfulness (which she refers to throughout the book in the use of the word "eucharisteo")and to be counting our blessings each and every day. Ann Voskamp shows us how even the mundane or terrible in life can be used as an act of worship to the God who made us. What a powerful read and one that I hope other Christians who may be going through difficult times will read.

Some of my favourite quotes from it were:

"...do I always want to see *more* beauty - *more* of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for - to give Him more glory. More eucharisteo, more. And not only yesterday. But today..." ~ p.109 ~

"Every time fear freezes and worry writhes, every time I surrender to stress, aren't I advertising the unreliability of God? That I really don't believe? But if I'm grateful to the Bridge Builder for the crossing of a million strong bridges, thankful for a million faithful moments, my life speaks my beliefs and I trust Him again. I fearlessly cross the next bridge...It's only when you live the prayer of thanksgiving that you live the power of trusting God... When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ's safe arms, true bridge, and not into hoplessness...We can give thanks in everything because there's a good God leading, working all things into good...Each bridge I need to cross, form one moment to moment the next, is wholly safe, each leading me deeper into Him and closer to home...It is safe to trust!" ~ p.151, 155 ~

God bless!










PS Upon further examination, it appears that there is a bit of controversy surrounding this book and how theologically sound it is. Please know that in recommending this book I am not saying I agree with everything the writer says or the particular ways she communicates certian ideas. Rather, I felt it did remind me to look to my Saviour during the hard times and to have an attitude of thankfulness towards Him, and by virtue of this, I do think it is worth a read.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Thank You for the Valley

A lovely song I heard today! I've included two versions of the same song - one with instruments and without as they both were so lovely!

Thank You for the Valley



Thank you for the valley I walked through today.
The darker the valley, the more I learned to pray.
I found you where the lilies are, Blooming by the way,
And I thank you for the valley I walked through today.

Thank you for every hill I climbed.
For every time the sun didn't shine.
Thank you for every lonely night.
I prayed 'til I knew everything was all right.

Life can't be all sunshine. All the flowers would die.
The rivers would be deserts, all barren and dry.
Life can't be all blessings or, there'd be no need to pray.
So I thank you for the valley I walked through today.

Thank you for every hill I climbed.
For every time the sun didn't shine.
Thank you for every lonely night.
I prayed 'til I knew everything was all right.

Thank you for the valley, I walked through today.

The words are so true! Trials help us to cling with ever-increasing reliance to our saviour. When we find ourselves facing the "valleys" and the "hills", we need to remember to pray to our saviour, to look to Him rather than ourselves ~ God gives us prayer for a reason!

God bless!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Spurgeon, Songs and More!

Hi all,

This quote has been on my mind a lot lately:


Isn't Spurgeon so right? Perhaps the Lord is calling you to endure a trial today in order to make you more empathetic towards others and able to minister to them when they are in need. Your suffering means that someone else who is going through a hard time can know that you are being genuine when you proclaim how the Lord has brought you through the hard days. Who knows - this trial you are going through now may be a pivotal means that the Lord can use to draw someone to Himself! Surely then it is worth it!

A friend shared with me today these two songs, which have very good lyrics! Praying that it blesses you today as much as it blessed me!

Still, My Soul Be Still ~ Keith and Kristyn Getty


Amazing but challenging lyrics in this!

 Still my soul be still 
And do not fear 
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
 God is at your side 
No longer dread 
The fires of unexpected sorrow  

God You are my God 
And I will trust in You and not be shaken 
Lord of peace renew 
A steadfast spirit within me 
To rest in You alone  

Still my soul be still 
Do not be moved 
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows 
Hold onto His ways 
With shield of faith 
Against temptations flaming arrows  

Still my soul be still 
Do not forsake 
The Truth you learned in the beginning 
Wait upon the Lord 
And hope will rise As stars appear when day is dimming.

Perfect Wisdom of Our God ~ Keith and Kristyn Getty


The last verse was a really amazing reminder and something I really need to be praying for regularly, as I'm sure you do too!

Oh grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
"Your perfect will in your perfect way."

Also, I saw this really good piece of writing by Leslie Ludy today. How important it is for us to pray when we are in the midst of trials!
For a few weeks now, I’ve been meditating on the scene of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His crucifixion. It says, “…and being in agony, He prayed more earnestly.” (Luke 22:44a) What an amazing statement. The more anguish Jesus felt, the more intensely He prayed. In my own life, I’ve noticed when I’m walking through times of trials and challenges, prayer does not always come naturally. When stress or fears start to close in, I often find myself wanting to “solve problems” or “process my emotions” instead of pour out my heart to God in earnest prayer.

Jesus set a beautiful example for us during the most challenging trial of His earthly life. When the weight of the world literally rested upon His shoulders and the agony was so extreme that it caused Him to sweat great drops of blood, He didn’t seek out human advice or comfort. He didn’t try to solve, brainstorm, or strategize a solution to His pain. Rather, he knelt before His Father and prayed earnestly. And He received supernatural grace and strength to victoriously carry the greatest burden in the history of the world.

If you are facing any trial today, I encourage you to find the strength and grace you need, not first and foremost through human solutions or problem-solving, but through effectual, fervent prayer. According to the example of Christ, the greater the agony we feel, the more earnest our prayers should be! Remember that we serve a faithful God who hears – and responds – to the prayer of His people!

- Leslie

God bless!

From,

Monday, 16 September 2013

Revived Through God's Word

I read this today in a little devotional and thought I would post it:

Revived Through God's Word

"This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me." ~ Psalm 119:5

The difference regular reading of God's Word can make in your life is the difference between a panic attack in the unexpected jolts of life and a supernatural peace in the midst of the worst storm. It's the difference between confusion and quiet confidence.

What do you think? How important is it to be imersed in God's word in order to not fall into despair when the storms come? I think that it is clear we need to be much more imersed in scripture than we are (or at least I need to be a lot more imersed in it than I am)!

God bless and keep looking to Him and reading His Word!


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Helpful Little Quote Cards :)

I recieved a series of little quote cards (Lighthouse Christian Products Co.)  from a friend and thought they were well worth sharing with you all! Praying that they bless you as much as they blessed me! 

Matthew 19:26 ~ "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"

"Only God is big enough to deal with whatever comes into our life. Only He has the power, wisdom and ability to do more than we can imagine. All things are possible with God. And, that gives us reason to trust Him with everything." 

Philippians 4:13 ~ "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"God wants to give us the strength we need to face whatever comes into our life, but He wants us to ask for it and take a step of faith, too. He wants to know that we trust Him. When we take the step, He pours out His strength so we can do all things through it."

Romans 8:28 ~ "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose."

"God promises to work out everything for our good. There's always a new way to see God, a new lesson to learn, a new way to prune us to help us grow. God doesn't prevent us from experiencing struggles but He walks with us and helps us grow through them."

Genesis 18:14 ~ "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

"Nothing is too difficult for Him. Therefore, He can help us carry that burden, face that obstacle or make it through that trial. He can do things we can't do. We need to stop trying to do it all ourselves and turn to Him in trust and faith."

Philippians 4:6 ~ Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done."

"God is bigger than any fear we face. We don't need to anxiously search for a solution. The best thing to do when we're afraid is to fall to our knees. He'll hear our prayer, meet our need and help us face our fear with the courage only He can give."








We All Need Hope

The Lord has blessed me with many godly friends who are such an encouragement to me! I have recieved several gifts lately which have greatly encouraged me and helped me to see that the Lord is always in control! I thought I would share some snippets of what I've been learning here over the next wee while.

The following is an excerpt from the Lighthouse Christian Products Co booklet titled "We All Need Hope". It is written by Greg Buick, Deborah Christensen and Judson Poling.


We All Need Hope

Life can be hard. Sometimes, we have to endure a bad day. Other times, we face unrelenting heartache. No amount of tears can bring it to an end. Most of us face difficult times more often than we would like. Yet as difficult as life can be, hope guides us and gets us through the storms of life. Take away hope, and even the small things crush us. 

As we look at the big picutre in our world, we see hopeless situations. The news regularly bombards us with stories of the harmful and even evil situations people endure. Abuse, divorce, murder, war famine, rape and natural disasters torment our lives and shred our broken world. Beyond the unexpected disasters that make the news, we're wounded by the daily actions of others who never get headlines - but hurt us deeply. We begin to wonder how God can allow bad things to happen to good people. 

Is this how God intended us to live? Is this the kind of life He created us for?

Thankfully, the answer is no. The Bible tells us the true story of how God created us and our world, how we fell away from His original design, and what He did to heal our brokenness. It offers hope because we discover that God is in the business of restoring us to His beautiful original intentions....
God loves us so much that He couldn't just let us stay in our broken condition in a life of misery and frustration. Because the wages of sin is death, the only way to pay for it once and for all would be through the death of someone else. And Christianity says that it was God Himself - the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ - who did that for us...

Our hope rests on God's promise that even though we experience pain while we are "in process", one day we will be fully restored. These experiences will be gone. He will never change the terms of His agreement to finish the work He started in us. The end of the story is certian, and God will never stop loving us as it unfolds. 

***

Wow, isn't the Lord amazing? 
God bless! 




Monday, 2 September 2013

Grandfather's Wisdom

I thought I should warn you in advance that this is likely to be a super long blog post as the Lord has been teaching me so much lately! I've had a rather contemplative week and lots of little things have come up that I would like to share with you. :)


To start with, for some reason yesterday I recalled something my grandfather told me years ago. It remains probably the most helpful advice I've ever had and something that I try to apply - but it is one of those things that certianly requires God's grace! He said to me, "God gives us pain to tell us that something is wrong." 

In the immediate context he was referring to physical pain as he had cancer. He'd recently been reading about a ministry with people who had leporosy and so they could not feel the warning signs of pain that alerted them to something being wrong. But it really struck me that my grandfather, who was in such pain himself, was able to say that! 

And I think that it can be applied to pain of different kinds as well. I am slowly learning that all of us are called to endure pain while in this world, be it physical or otherwise - it is part of living in a fallen world. Some of it will be a breakdown in relationships, a sudden and unexpected death, a severe illness, lonliness...the list goes on and on, and I'm sure you know what pain the Lord has been bringing you through. But perhaps all this pain is supposed to be a reminder to us that we all have something wrong with us, a bad condition (SIN); that we live in a sinful world, that we ourselves are sinners and we should, no, MUST rely on God's grace to get us through every single day. So maybe we need to start seeing pain as a wake-up call from the Lord to look to Him and see things from an eternal perspective rather than a temporary one. Our own pain ought to spur us on to evangelism and sharing with others the great hope that we have: that the pain and suffering we see all around us in this world is going to be gone when Christ comes again!

On a differnt note, I saw this trailer the other day for the film 'Unstoppable' and it certianly looks like something worth looking at!!! I don't live in the US, so unfortunately I won't be able to view it but for any of you who do and are wrestling with questions as to why God allows suffering, I highly recommend you look into it. Here is the trailer and you can read more about it by visiting their website: http://unstoppablethemovie.com/



To make this blog post a little shorter, I might post the rest of what I was going to say in another post, so you may just get two blog posts today for a change! :D

God bless!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Reminiscing...

The other night, I went through my old journal of the last three years and read and read until I got right up until the present time. It was a real eye-opener and if you don't already keep a journal or a diary, I strongly recommend that you do. As I read through the different struggles of the past, I couldn't help but be amazed at the way the Lord has been working in each and every circumstance of my life, and is changing me constantly to be more like Him. Oh, how much sin remains, and yet how He has been changing me! Thank you heavenly Father! I cannot help but see how the trials have drawn me so much closer to Him, and so my prayer is that you may see that He is in control of all events in your life for your good, whether or not it seems that way.

Now, this is fairly personal, but I read some entries that I wrote on particularly hard days that serve now as a reminder to me that God is so, so faithful, and so I thought I'd share one for any of you who may be going through a trial right now.
Some days you just want to forget. Today was one such day, but I have already seen the Lord working through it, conforming me more to His will. Thank you heavenly Father. I know it's not pleasant but in the future I will look back on this day and be able to thank and praise you for it...Thank you for filling my heart and mind with your Word today, Father! In your precious name, amen.
I share this with you because this entry served as a powerful reminder to me of how God can use our hardest days to draw us closer to Him in a way that we simply can't appreciate on a day when everything seems well with the world. I'm sure the days that I have felt such a depth of fellowship with Him are on the days when I've been struggling through a trial of one kind or another. Because on days like that, you have nothing and no-one else to cling to, except Him and Him alone. And it's amazing how He will bring to your mind verses to encourage you through the day. The day I wrote that entry, I had verses coming out my ears! Every time I felt tempted to fall into despair, another verse would come to mind, and I can't tell you how much that helped me! Maybe what we need to do is to start seeing trials as "blessings in disguise" (Laura Story) and thank the Lord for giving us them in order to draw us closer to Himself. It is such a challenge! May God in His grace help me and you to do this!

Another thing that happened recently is I visited a friend in hospital last week. It was a powerful reminder of the fact that suffering, death, sickness and so on seems so unnatural to us. All of us seem to have an awareness that it ought not to exist ~ and yet it does! I'm rather tired right now, and I feel that this thought deserves a blog post all of it's own, so I might leave that for you to ponder.

God bless!


Monday, 19 August 2013

Life Ain't Easy

I recieve a daily devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada into my email inbox, and today's was a really good one that I thought I'd share with you all! 

Life Ain't Easy ~ Joni Eareckson Tada


"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."
Acts 14:22

Everyone who takes the Bible seriously, and many who don't, agree that God hates suffering. Jesus spent much of His short life relieving it. Scores of passages tell us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit inmates, and speak up for the helpless. When we feel compassion for people in distress, we know that God felt it first. He shows this by raising sick people from their beds -- sometimes to the wonder of doctors, in answer to prayer. Every day He grants childless women babies, pulls small-business owners out of financial pits, protects Alzheimer's patients crossing the street, and writes happy endings to sad situations. Even when He has to punish sin, He says it gives Him no pleasure (Ezekiel 18:32). In heaven, Eden's curse will be canceled. Sighs and longings will be historical curiosities. Tears will evaporate. Tissue companies will go broke.

But it simply doesn't follow that God's only relationship to suffering is to relieve it. He specifically says that all who follow Him can expect hardship. But didn't Jesus hang on a cross so we wouldn't have to suffer hell? Yes, but not so we wouldn't have to suffer here -- on earth. Listen to the Bible on this:

"I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16).

"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ... to suffer for him... " (Philippians 1:29).
____________________________

The Bible goes even further. After calling Christians "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" it adds -- "if indeed we share in his sufferings." In other words, no one goes to Christ's heaven who doesn't first share Christ's sufferings. Do you think you should be exempt from suffering? Listen to this final word from Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..." This week, purpose in your heart to be no greater than your Master. If He suffered, you can expect it too.

May I learn obedience through the hard thing I'm going through right now, God.

***

If you want to recieve Joni's devotionals too, you can go to http://www.joniandfriends.org/daily-devotional/ and sign up to recieve it. :)

God bless!


Trust His Heart

I came across this beautiful hymn today that I'd never heard before. Praying that it blesses you today!

~ Trust His Heart ~


All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don't
See how they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth
Our Father knows what's best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don't see him,
Remember your never alone

Chorus:
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsty.com/babbie-mason-trust-his-heart-lyrics.html ]
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don't understand
When don't see his plan
When you can't trace his hand
Trust His Heart

He sees the master plan
He holds the future in his hand,
So don't live as those who have no hope,
ALL our hope is found in him.
We see the present clearly
He sees the first and last
And like a tapestry He's weaving you and me,
To someday be just like him

(Chorus)

He alone is faithful and true
He alone knows what is best for you

(Chorus)

When you can't trace his hand
When you don't see his plan
When you don't understand
Trust His Heart
 
Trust His Heart lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. 

 

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Sunshine Behind the Storm #2: Praising the Lord for Trials

Hello again everyone! 

I am really excited to introduce the second article in the series "Sunshine Behind the Storm". This article is written by a fellow blogger, Micaela, from the US. She blogs over at Everyday Encouragements and has a ministry for young women called Hearts for Purity which I highly recommend you check out. She also contributes articles for the Radiant Girls of God {RGOG} blog. Her writing and ministry has really challenged and encouraged me, so thank you Micaela and may the Lord use your writing for His glory!


When someone asks me about trials, one of the first people I think of is Joseph. His life started out well enough, but then it took a turn for the worse. He had more downs than ups. 

But let me tell you a little about him.

Joseph was the favorite son, hated by his brothers. They plotted to kill Joseph, but instead sold him into slavery. Joseph was taken from Canaan to Egypt, where he was purchased by Potipher, captain of the guard under Pharoh. Joseph was a beloved servant in Potipher's house...until Potipher's wife lied about Joseph. He was thrown in prison, to be forgotten for three years. When he was released, God used Joseph to interpret Pharoh's disturbing dreams. Joseph was promoted to second in command in the land of Egypt. He was put in charge of preparing for the foretold famine. When the famine came, it struck not only Egypt, but Canaan as well. This drove Joseph's brothers to come and buy grain in Egypt. Later on, Joseph revealed to them who he was. The brothers were remorseful for their treatment of Joseph, yet he forgave them.

Joseph could have been angry or bitter toward those who had wronged him, or even toward God. But when he looked back over his life, Joseph wasn't either of those things. When asked, he simply said, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” { Gen. 50:20 }

God's plans were perfect, and Joseph realized that. He could see, in retrospect, that God had been in control all along. His life was not wasted, his pain had a purpose. God knew what He was doing.

And the same applies to us.

I went through a time in my life, not too long ago, when I thought I knew what God was doing. I could see His fingerprints all over the place in what had happened thus far. Then, He threw in a twist. Everything I had thought came crashing down around me. I didn't know what to do or think anymore. It was like I'd been on a roller coaster, climbing higher, higher, higher, and then came the huge drop, sudden and totally unexpected. I didn't understand what was going on. I kept asking God, “Why?” 

Then I realized I needed to praise Him. I needed to give Him the honor and glory for whatever it was that He was doing in my life. I still don't know exactly why He did what He did, but I have the same response that Joseph had: one of confidence, thankfulness, and praise for God's perfect plan.

Now, whenever I think of that experience that drew me ever so near to my Savior, and then the disappointment that came with the 'curveball', I choose to praise Him for it all. One of my favorite passages to pray is Psalm 9:1-2 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”
 
Praising God for trials isn't easy. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

To finish, I'd like to share with you a song about giving God glory amid trials, and realizing that He has a bigger plan for us, than we have for ourselves.

{ Note: this is from the Dreamworks movie about Joseph's life, “Joseph, King of Dreams” --one of the reasons it fits so well ;) }


"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
God Bless!!
~ Micaela 

Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Micaela! Joseph really is a powerful reminder that God works all things together for our good, whether or not we can see that (and I love that song!!!) :D Help us all, Lord, to trust in You and that You have Your hand in each and every situation of our lives, be it good or bad.