Take Heart

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by Calven Celliers

Earlier this week I went to visit one of our congregants who has been struck with Alzheimer’s and is sadly fading fast. The visit affected me badly, if I’m honest. I sat in disbelief, deeply saddened at the sight before me. A shell of a being where once there was a person so full of fun, life, and talent. Now completely withdrawn and lost to the outside world, totally dependent on others for the most basic of activities. As I drove away, I found myself angry; angry at the situation, dare I say, angry at God for allowing this to happen to one of His own.

The “why” question is not a new one; it goes back thousands of years. In one online article that I read as I tried to make sense of this scramble of emotions inside of me, contributing writer, Robert Hampshire commented that – “When we respond to a situation with anger, it shines a light on what we value and consider as right and wrong. On the other hand, if something does not produce any feelings of anger, we can conclude that it is not something we value that much. When a situation turns out differently than we think it should have been, it naturally causes emotional friction in us that comes out as frustration, disappointment, annoyance, and anger. So, if we find ourselves being angry with God, it reveals that we think God was unfair … we need to honestly ask ourselves what beliefs we have about God that are unscriptural, untrue, and unhelpful.”

I totally got what Mr Hampshire was saying. When we respond to a situation with anger, it shines a light on what we value and consider as right or wrong. Bingo! I love people, especially my flock, and when bad things happen to good people it makes me angry. It just doesn’t feel right nor fair. The question that remains, however, is this: what beliefs do I have about God, that cause me to feel this way? Who ever said that as believers we would never experience troubles or that we shouldn’t anticipate setbacks in this life? Not God, that’s for sure! In fact, Jesus went so far as to say, 33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33NIV)

Oftentimes, we focus on what is presented in front of us. And what we see sinks into our minds and works its way into our hearts. As I wrestled with God after that visit, I was once again reminded that these years on earth, while important and are to be used wisely and enjoyed, are preparation for a far greater life to come; life in heaven with God. My end, as Mary Queen of Scots put it, is my beginning. And her end was at the sharp point of an axe. Did God answer my “why” question? No, He didn’t, well not directly anyway, but He did comfort me as I prayed, with this scripture, 16 … do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18NIV)

 

The way to glory is sadly often via present suffering, we know that all too well. But take heart! I have overcome the world. As hard, and confusing, as our earthly trials and tribulations may be, for us as Christians they really are light and momentary troubles when we consider the eternal glory that awaits us.

 

As Rick Warren so aptly reminds us in his book The Purpose Driven Life, “What happens outwardly in your life is not as important as what happens inside you. Your circumstances are temporary, but your character will last forever.”  And so dear friends, let us not grow weary, but let us see the difficulties of this life for what they are, training ground for an eternal glory that far outweighs anything we have to endure in this life. An eternal perspective changes everything!

 

God bless you,

Calven

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Good People!

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Guest Post

by Dave Griffiths

Most Americans believe that good people go to heaven. Do good people go to heaven?  The logic goes like this; There is a good God, who lives in a good place reserved for good people. Right!

Men and women must do good things and not do certain things in order to ensure a place with a good God. Make sense ? Maybe!

An alternative is, do bad people go to heaven?  If ever there’s a time to be sure, it’s now.

On the news, thousands have died due to this virus.  Most people think that when you die your soul goes to heaven or hell, and most religions think it depends on how you live your life this side of death. So, be good now, and, whatever…

One fact is the mortality rate for humans is 100%, so we need to be sure we have been good enough. Right ? maybe.

Many think it’s the responsibility of religion to help you be sure of your destination. Apparently, the Bible, Koran, book of Morman, all recount rewards for good behaviour from a good God.

This view appeals to our common sense, it’s good for society, and keeps us all on our best behaviour. Right ?  All the experts can’t be wrong !  So many different religions. Is their God right ? They think so. Is your God right ? You probably think so.  Is there a formula ? Surely we need a clear definition for what’s good. Everyone knows what’s not good, what’s wrong, steal, murder, lie, break the speed limit, so it’s a good idea not to do that.

Your conscience is an interesting thing. It condemns you when you do bad, but doesn’t do much in the way of assuring you when you do well. 

Surely the experts should help you how to earn your way to heaven. They aught to know, but, one expert will tell you that it’s just fine to stone a women to death if they decide she is guilty of adultery. Bit extreme, I think. But they don’t think so. I know what feels right to me, but others see things different.

So what standard does God use? Or does he have a set of rules?  Now there’s a point, what about the 10 commandments? Here’s a set of rules God gave to Moses, set in stone, exactly what to do and what not to do. Keep those, and, you will be good and …. well go to heaven?  

Actually a lot of people say “I know I’m going to heaven because I keep the 10 commandments”.  Fact is, there’s no connection between the 10 commandments and going to heaven. You can check it out in the book of Exodus. They no way guarantee a place in heaven.

In any case, the standard is too high, and I know that I have broken a number of those laws already. I found that out when I read the New Testament :-

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Rom. 3:23.

There is no one righteous, not even one. Rom. 3:10.

The wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23.   

What’s more, no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law, rather, through the law we become conscience of sin. Now that really unsettled the religious leaders of the day. When it came to the law, the Pharisees were the best people around. They were good, the best of the best, and yet we read, “Unless your righteousness  surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5). As good as they were, they weren’t good enough !

If you are looking for a God that lets good people into heaven, stay away from the New Testament. Jesus, however said “I am the way”. He didn’t say He would show us the way, He claimed to be the only way (Jhn.14) and He didn’t say good people. He claimed to be exclusive, so why is there no other option ?

There seems to be no other approach, but all is not as it seems. There is another way, for good and bad people!

The other way is forgiven people go to heaven, and forgiveness is made possible by the sacrificial death of Jesus, the lamb of God who came to be sacrificed for the sins of the whole world. The reason good people don’t go to heaven is because there aren’t any good people, only sinners.

Forgiven people go to heaven, and we can ensure that we are forgiven by accepting Jesus as our Lord, and believing that He is the Saviour of the world.

 

Dave

Continue Reading Good People!

Self-Care

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by Graham Mol

This afternoon I would like to use my blog post for the day to highlight a brilliantly written article on an incredibly important topic especially during the times we are currently facing. In recent years I have learnt the importance of self-care. By self-care I do not merely mean things like brushing your teeth and brushing your hair (although that is part of it). To quote from the linked article below:

“Self-care is about helping the mind and body function in healthy and sustainable ways.”

Some may dismiss the concept of self-care as self-centred or even selfish, such assessments are the consequence of so much of culture telling you to “man up” or “suck it up” and “get on with it”. Some may argue that it isn’t Biblical. It actually is.

When asked what is the greatest commandment Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” He then continued to tell those listening what the second greatest commandment is: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-38) So often these commandments are summarised as “Love God, Love Others” and thus miss out a very important factor. We are commanded to love others as ourselves. There is an implicit command to love oneself. This is not a conceited love – for it does not end with oneself but extends to others, and of course comes after one’s first love anyway, that of loving the Lord with one’s whole being.

Let’s be honest, for a lot of us if we actually loved and treated others like we love and treat ourselves, people would call us harsh or unkind, maybe even unsympathetic tyrants. If we beat others up like we beat ourselves up… we’d get into some kind of trouble.

So grab a warm cup of tea or coffee and take a read through this article by Jane Born:

Learning about self-care from the Old Testament

 

God Bless

Graham

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Trials

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by Caryl Moll

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this past year certainly really does feel like a trial.  This is why I was so touched by one of the ‘Bible You Version’ messages last week. And I’m sure they won’t mind me repeating it here today. It comes from the book of James:

James 1:12 NIV

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

I know that we all feel uncomfortable with all the many changes that we have had to implement into our lives over the past year.  Perhaps, like me, you have found a new skill, talent, a friend or simply discovered a new way of doing things. Maybe you’ve created a new source of income for your family. Perhaps you’ve reached for your Bible more often, prayed more or found a new ministry. Or maybe you’ve simply discovered a new way of navigating all the obstacles that the pandemic has presented. Either way, I can bet that it’s challenged your mind to try our new ways of doing things. We’ve all had to think harder too and have had to persevere in this pandemic.

 I’m not discounting the despondency that sometimes goes along with such large-scale and ongoing change and illness, but in the grand scheme of things these challenges can serve to make us stronger.

The message of James really made me think…

 Although change doesn’t sit nicely with most of us, it certainly grows us. If we recognise it as exactly that – a trial – it becomes easier to deal with. We have learned that the ‘status quo’ of the difficulty probably won’t last. We will overcome. Trials are temporary. We can see them as a challenge – like training for a marathon.

So, this is the simple message for today…

Hang in there. You are blessed in this trial. Keep your focus on Jesus. Let’s all persevere together and look forward to the crown of life at the end.

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

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