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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Thursday, 30 October 2014

My Valley...

I have written this poem because as Christians we are not immune from life difficulties - we ALL go through awfully tough seasons, sometimes it is exhausting trying to make sense of them...As Christians we are not in some protective bubble, yet we still do have an eternal HOPE and PERSPECTIVE which is beyond usual comprehension.  Our challenges may be very different from one another, yet pressuring all the same...

Please remember Jesus knows what our valleys are like and walks them with us - He is not far from us during these times, rather carrying us and eagerly awaiting for us to draw closer to Him so we can grow...

This poem is dedicated to a Christian friend of mine whom I am blessed to be walking the valleys know who are, my friend loved by God. 

My Valley...

When I am down in my valley,
I am forced to realise, I have no place to look other than up…
When I stand at life’s edge,
Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
And all I can see, is problem after problem…
Sometimes Your answer is dim,
Solutions seem even difficult to bear;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I want to run and escape, hiding myself away from all…
Yet even this is impossible to do,
Shelter seems far beyond me;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I cannot help but wonder why, why am I here once again…
I know the climb out is beyond me,
Yet nothing is impossible with You; 
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
Your love it breaks through, You reach me where I am…
For You’ve heard my desperate cry,
What is beyond me draws me to You;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I do well to remember, there is a new horizon awaiting…
I will choose to be grateful,
For You work all things together for my good;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I remember You know, the wilderness and suffering…
Yet You have conquered and overcome,
This is my hope and light;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I understand I am not exempt, life pressures they still attack…
Yet I am still loved and protected,
Eternally Yours by grace alone;
My valley I know it so well.

When I am down in my valley,
I choose to say to yes life is tough, but I stand in Christ’s strength…
So I will be grateful for the chance,
The chance to once again look up;
My valley I know it so well.

All my love, Melanie.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

How do I pray?

I had a friend a while ago ask me to write a post on prayer – I believe the request was God inspired and in it I heard her heart’s desire to get closer to Jesus which gave me great joy.

It makes me think of the request made to Jesus by His disciples… “Lord, teach us to pray…”

Jesus replied with what we know today as The Lord’s prayer, you can read it here.

When thinking about my friend’s request, at first I thought about listing the ways we can ‘talk’ to God because prayer is usually described to people this way, and I know how I personally found it encouraging to understand that prayer was not some mystical, difficult religious practice, rather just simply talking to my creator and Father who loves me…

However I also feel that prayer is MORE than just ‘talking’…bear with me a moment on this, as words are important to me…You see, I think we can TALK to anyone just to be heard…and YES prayer does involve speaking to God – Yet I feel a better verb for prayer is COMMUNICATE – for when we pray we communicate with God because prayer should be 2-way, heart to heart relating.

I think this is what the request of the disciples really was asking – How do we communicate with God…How do we get closer in relationship to our heavenly Father?

Jesus heard their request and was NOT harsh; rather He gave a heart-felt prayer as an example for us all, to connect our hearts closer to our heavenly Father in petition. In Matthew 6 Jesus introduces His prayer to the disciples with the teaching to NOT ‘heap up words’, rather to speak from one’s heart; read about it here.

There is a wonderful example in the Bible Jesus told about two men praying – one just TALKS…saying to God how glad He is that he’s not an awful sinner (this man trusted in his own self-righteousness) the second beats his chest and prays for mercy…his heart calls out to God!  Jesus taught the second man went home having peace with God…check it out here.

Prior to this story of the two men, Jesus told a parable commending our need to PRAY – In Luke 11 following The Lord’s prayer there is another teaching by Jesus for perseverance in prayer…So we can see from scripture the importance PRAYER plays in our relationship with God…for prayer is COMMUNICATION, God hears our heart-felt words and responds.  Jesus said God already knows our needs before we pray…

Yet we still need to pray and ask because we are in RELATIONSHIP with God – PRAYER is our communication with our Father in heaven…He knows all our needs, joy and worries, for He journeys with us each day…yet wants to spend time with us hearing them, rejoicing with us in the good times and helping us carry our burdens in the difficult times.

PRAYER is communication because God will also speak to us when we pray – it may be when we silence ourselves and STOP talking during prayer and LISTEN for His calm, peaceful voice to come into our minds…it could also be by asking Him to speak to us through scripture after praying.

When we view PRAYER as communication for God is with us all of the time, I think we are better able to understand scripture which says we are to pray constantly, without ceasing – for we are able to communicate anytime, anyplace with God.

For example, when I am eating my sandwich, even if I have given thanks beforehand, I may think ‘wow this is so tasty, thanks God!’  While this may sound trivial, this is prayer.  Have you ever exhaled a big breath and just though, ‘I am so glad You are with me Lord!’ – this is prayer!  We can even pray silently or under our breath while working – often when something comes to mind or upon my heart to pray about, I like to simple say it then and there to avoid the regret of forgetting about it later.  When people ask me to pray for them, I’ll often just still my mind and pray a short, simple prayer for their need right away…I don’t believe prayer should be complicated…I hope our hearts are more for God, than eloquent, long-winded prayers.

Yes, we can intentionally set aside longer prayer time during the day.  It may be the morning when we first wake up, saying good morning, sharing our worries, asking for guidance that day and also in the evening before we sleep.  Intentional prayer time I think is important for stilling ourselves and being in His presence…the Jewish people had set prayer times which can be read about in the book of Daniel. 

Sometimes our hearts can be so heavy, or we can be so exhausted we don’t know what to pray – It’s times like this, I think simply getting down on our knees and praying The Lord’s prayer and just sitting silently and breathing in His presence is so helpful.  You may like to connect with The Lord through a nature walk or long drive – this can be prayer too – begin it with a prayer asking The Lord to accompany you, then see what happens as you journey with Him and finish it with a prayer of thanks.

Some lessons on prayer are helpful – Some areas of prayer to think about are; Praising God, prayer for people personally involved in our lives (family, friends, work colleagues), our government leaders, suffering people, our church family and mission workers and also ourselves.

An important point I believe is that prayer does NOT just have to be spoken – We should feel free to write to The Lord also, sing our prayers to The Lord or draw them…Relate to God the way He made you, delight in Him YOUR way when communicating with Him, for I believe it gives Him delight to see His children expressing themselves genuinely and individually.

One last point is communal prayer – first and foremost I believe we must have a personal, prayer life as individuals, yet joint prayer is VERY powerful.  Remember Jesus said where 2 or more are gathered in His Name, He is THERE with them!  He also taught us when 2 of us agree our petition is granted.  Praying as the church is so important, as is a trusted prayer partner.  I have personally experienced, powerfully answered prayer when I have intentionally prayed with another believer and this even has been over the phone on many occasions.  If you don’t have communal or joint prayer, I’d advise asking The Lord to guide you to a good church for there you will be able to pray during services…they may even run small prayer groups or you may even find a prayer partner in time.

I truly hope this post is helpful and encourages you to connect your heart closer to The Lord’s through DAILY communication with Him as an individual and also with His people!  Remember The Lord looks at our HEARTS not our words and is available anyplace, anytime – Let Him journey with you every step.  
In love, Melanie J

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Love Someone Today…

Should it be obvious to others that we are Christians?  The Bible actually says yes to this question…Indeed we are to be lights, in this sometimes dark world, illuminating the path to Jesus…

And Jesus Himself said that we would be KNOWN to others as His disciples by our LOVE!

Now this is NOT a post to cause you stress or pressure, rather I hope this post will encourage you, whomever you are, wherever you are in our world to, LOVE SOMEONE TODAY & EVERYDAY…

LOVING the people God has alongside us in our lives should not be a heavy duty, even though it can require stamina to walk alongside someone really suffering…What I mean is it shouldn’t be a heavy duty, which we feel we MUST DO or one that brings us down.  LOVING people isn’t a legalistic requirement; it should come from our inner being, overflowing from HIS LOVE within us and from our own gratefulness to Him, extending to others.

Life can be really tough…

I have seen negative, opinionated bickering, even arguing, online recently and I can’t help but think…What opportunities are these people missing out on, to show God’s LOVE to others in their life TODAY while spending this time getting worked up to the point of bickering?

Because I don’t think it matters how many large words a person uses in their arguing, or even if one is 100% right yet chooses to not walk away at the appropriate time – for the onlooker doesn’t often see LOVE in the raging storm of opinions.

I know what it is like to be tired, face financial issues, to be isolated at times, to be under attack, and to argue…just to mention a few pressures!  Yet I also know The Lord’s strength available to help me continue to LOVE…and I believe that this is where our HEART needs to stay resting.

What a different place our world and lives can be when we choose to ignore offenses and be pro-active in LOVING those in our lives ABOVE ourselves.

I know the awesome BLESSING I receive when I choose to obey His voice which says, now go and LOVE a particular person…I feel so much closer to Him when I put aside my own worries, by talking to Him about them in prayer and then going and doing something pro-active, like taking the time to help someone out.

I know what it’s like to step AWAY from the computer and get my hands dirty in the real world extending His LOVE to others and it makes me feel fantastic!

I have thought…What if TODAY was my last day…would I have spent it well by LOVING someone, expecting nothing back in return?

Galatians 5: 22-26.

I don’t usually do this, but I want to finish this post today in prayer:
LORD God, please hear this prayer in Jesus Name. I ask you to wet our hearts so that we are better able to absorb Your refreshing LOVE and release it to others, honestly, with no expectations from those You put us alongside…to be Your hands and feet…to share the Gospel in not only words but also by our actions of LOVE which illuminate the true path for peace with You which is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.  May there be less of us, our tired, self-seeking human nature, and MORE of You in our lives to be faithful disciples working to help others come into Your Kingdom.  Give us ears to HEAR Your voice with whom to show Your LOVE to each day; eyes to SEE the opportunities You present us with and characters which are joyful and eager to obey!

Now go, in the Name of Jesus and LOVE SOMEONE TODAY!

Melanie J

If Today Was Your Last Day, by Nickelback:

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Suffering for bearing His Name...

Did you know that suffering and persecution was actually promised by Jesus for His faithful followers?  Did you know that persecution for bearing His name is actually a BLESSING because His perfect Spirit is resting upon you?

This is not to say as God’s children we are to be trouble makers…rather that even when we put our heads down and heart’s out there to serve Him, sometimes trouble finds us…

But how should we manage?

I have written about this topic before, as it is so very real.  I have asserted we must pray for our persecutors, forgive them, bless them and not curse them – doing as Jesus commands us to do. While this is very necessary, there is also the needed determination to continue faithfully serving, which I want to focus on today.

1 Peter 4:19 says;‘Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful creator, while continuing to do good.’ (NRSV)

This verse is jam packed with such important theology for us Christians…

‘Suffering in accordance with God’s will’ – Yep, God’s will can involve Christian suffering!  We MUST understand this as it HELPS us to ward off negative thoughts that the enemy may try to plant in our minds…thoughts like, perhaps we are not a good enough Christian because we are suffering…You see, the enemy wants to stop us serving and reaching others for God’s Kingdom…the enemy wants the suffering to make us quit!

Now this is NOT talking about suffering for poor ungodly choices…Suffering for our poor choices, I think, can actually be easier to understand in our own minds.  Do you know what I mean?  For if I know I lost my cool with someone unnecessarily and hurt them, I am more easily able to understand the consequence of their reaction and the impact upon our relationship.  Yet when I suffer from someone for no obvious reason, this can really be confusing, hurtful and impact my personal self-esteem…

I am NOT saying my walk is perfect…but sometimes I have been faithful and still encountered things like:
·        Over-demanding, childish, selfish pressure from others to do more than I am comfortable with doing as a Christian
·        Plain rude, critical, unwarranted comments that seem to come from no-where
·        Negative, unfounded and unnecessary comments about my Christian walk
·        Straight out attack and ridicule for my Christian faith
·        Loss of friendships and isolation for being different

1 Peter talks about us not being surprised at the sufferings we undergo for bearing Christ’s Name (1 Peter 4:12-13) and says we should REJOICE to share in Christ’s sufferings…Yep, rejoice, because we are like Christ.  And after all isn’t that part of being a Christian, to become like Him?  Later in 5:9, we are encouraged with the fact that our persecution and suffering is not unique to us alone, it’s actually shared by our Christian brothers and sisters all over the world.

So when we accept our suffering as part of being a faithful Christian, we are encouraged to entrust ourselves to our faithful creator while continuing to do good…

The attitude of our mind is so important, we MUST have the mind of Christ in us or else we will shrink under the unfounded attack of persecution and the pressure of suffering.

We have the mind of Christ through the blessed Holy Spirit and feeding on the Word.

As Christians we need a transformed MIND, along with heart and our minds are transformed by scripture, made alive to us through the Holy Spirit.

When we feast upon His Word, we are calmed and refocused to be able to TRUST Him in all circumstances…not just the good times and then we are able to continuing doing GOOD for His Kingdom and glory.

I have found when I focus upon the TRUTH found in scripture and continue to do good, I am encouraged and strengthen, rather than defeated.  When I ignore the enemy, by not listening to negative thoughts or dwelling on feeling sorry for myself because of my sufferings, and reach out to others in Christ’s love, I feel Him carrying me and strengthening me…and it’s not usually too long a wait until I feel His joy rising up within me again.

So, just as Peter advises, if you’re suffering, TRUST Him and continue to do good!  Feed on His Word to have a transformed attitude, relying upon His strength to enable you to keep faithfully serving...and remember you are not alone, we all come under attack.

In His service, Melanie.

Let me leave you with this song, to help you remember that we are His people, carrying His Name, bearing His love, to move mountains with Him while we wait faithfully for His Kingdom to come!  

Thursday, 16 October 2014

From little things BIG things GROW...

A beautiful plant at my mum's that has
grown so well under her care!

In a western world where more is MORE…bigger is BETTER and Huge is BEST…even as Christians, we can get sucked into thinking, ‘What BIG thing can I do to make a difference for God’s Kingdom?’ 

We can get into a rut with our thinking, believing that our own small lives and little efforts are insignificant in such a HUGE world.  Sometimes our thoughts may be along the lines of, ‘Does God even see my small efforts…Am I a real Christian…How many people have I reached for His Kingdom…Do I even make a difference?’

Yet I believe these thoughts run contrary to God’s…

I believe that there is no condemnation in Christ and we are saved not by our works but faith alone…and that God cares about the little things!

1 Corinthians 13 speaks of LOVE…the small, humble gift of Christian love to others…it teaches us that humble love is of greater importance to God than any other gift we may think is greater…Read it here.

Jesus said that there is no greater LOVE than to lay one’s life down for their friends…He commands us to love one another as He Himself has LOVED us, read it here.  

Jesus also taught us, whatever we do, no matter how small a gesture for the least in His family we have done so for Him! Read it here.

I know it doesn’t matter how many people read these blog posts…What matters is my own HEART and relationship with God and others.  My own heart MUST be foremost for The Lord and therefore also for the people He puts me alongside.  If it isn’t, I just become a noisy, clanging cymbal like in Corinthians 13!

A true humble heart, I believe doesn’t think, ‘What can I do for God?’  Rather, ‘I will do whatever task He asks from me, in response to His awesome LOVE.’  It’s not an attitude of, ‘I’m going to become famous for God.’  Rather, ‘Let there be less of me and more of Him glorified.’

It reminds me of the famous Australian song by Paul Kelly, From little things big things grow!

I believe that God often only gives us small glimpses at a time of what to do next, rather than the whole picture.  We then need to be obedient and step forward in faith, not always knowing what will follow later on…

Sometimes it may only be a small idea of how we can bless someone, or our own church group…but in each obedient step of LOVE we take to care for those in our lives, we plant His seeds of love and encouragement…We may not always get to see them sprout but I don’t think that matters.

Each individual is precious to The Lord…He died for every INDIVIDUAL…so I believe we shouldn’t view people as numbers. 

There were only 12 apostles who led the early church, later Paul became one too…but think how widespread Christianity is today.

From little things BIG things grow…

Never underestimate how your humble efforts of LOVE can be used by God for His glory…because as we know, it’s NOT about us…rather Him!  

What small act of LOVE can you do for someone in your life today for His glory?

You may not know the awesome Aussie story behind Paul Kelly’s song about  Vincent Lingiari, I didn’t, so if not check out this clip and be encouraged in The Lord…from Little things BIG things GROW!

In Christ’s service, Melanie :)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The Christian Response for when we’re disappointed by people...

People will disappoint…

What are we to do when people disappoint us?

You know what I mean…I’m not talking about slight let downs…

I’m talking about the real, stomach upsetting actions which can leave you wondering…WHAT?

Those choices sometimes our closest and dearest can make which leave us wondering if we even factor into their choices which impact us…

Disappointments like:
People who apparently are your nearest and dearest, yet stop calling and are only there when you make the effort…
People who are hot one day, cold the next and leave you feeling confused…
People who don’t keep their promises and let you down at the last moment with a feeble excuse…
People who don’t keep their word and end up being gossips or slanderers behind your back…
People who are double-minded and double-tongued…
People who only want you in their life when it suits them and their schedule…
People who prove to have only been in your life for what they can get from you…
People who withdraw when your life changes dramatically…

As you can tell from these examples I know what it’s like to be disappointed by people in life.

This post is NOT about self-reflection and analysing what we ourselves have done in the relationship to contribute to the disappointment because this post is for the person who has given their all and really is disappointed…because I believe this can actually happen!  Yes, I believe that sometimes we really have done all we could have and still can find ourselves let down by someone and disappointed.  This is the person this post is written for…I trust your own maturity to do your own reflecting and analysis over your own relationships.

When I feel like this I know that The Lord commands me to forgive the offender…to pray for them…to bless them and not curse them…AND THIS IS HARD…Yet necessary for us to stay close to Christ and move forward in our life with Him as number one…it allows us to not remain trapped in negative thoughts and the disappointment.

Yet how can we get to the place where we can forgive, pray, bless?  Because it’s one thing to know what we need to do and another to actually be able to do it!


I believe the only way for me to be able to do as The Lord commands is to connect with His heart through WORSHIP…

I MUST connect with the HEART OF GOD through THE CROSS!

I give Him all my hurt and grief by connecting MY heart with HIM through prayer and singing…even if it is in tears…

I will retreat in private and talk to Him and pump up the WORSHIP music and sing and listen and pray…sometimes I blog too…I do this until I find, once again, His compassion and peace within me…

If I don’t, I feel I am only left with my flesh…which is short tempered, angry, hurt and torn.  

When the disappointment resurfaces I need to once again connect with The Lord through WORSHIP to be able to again re-forgive the person for the disappointment they have left me with.  This process, I believe is what that churchy-phrase ‘Give-it-to-The-Lord’ means…you know the one that gets sometimes flippantly spoken without being explained…the response that can be spoken even before the person is able to share their gut-wrenching hurt…

It is only when I connect my heart with HIS through WORSHIP – true, gut-wrenching WORSHIP of The One who is forever faithful and true…even when others are not - that I can truly forgive, pray and bless the offender and work for peace with them.  It does not mean that I will be reconciled with the person as this may be foolish to do…sometimes we do actually need to walk away from these people…but either way, it does mean I can be truly set free from the pain and disappointment, praise Him!

Let me leave you with a WORSHIP song which helps me to connect with Him and His LOVE!  Melanie.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Do Not Regard Lightly The Discipline Of The Lord

The Lord disciplines His children because He loves them…

…“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
(Hebrews 12:5-6, citing Proverbs 3: 11-12)

Maturing as Christians requires spiritual growth.  If we are to grow-up to be more like Christ, we need training and guiding…just like young trees which need stakes and binding to guide them, we need strapping closely to Jesus, a daily devotional life which genuinely seeks The Lord’s guidance.  If we don’t, we will grow wild and untamed which will not reflect Jesus, whom we know is the pure, light of the world…

A very real part of a devoted Christian life is discipline and yes, even punishment, as the verse above states!  And this can be tough.  I can admit honestly that I don’t really want discipline and punishment even if it is for my benefit…I didn’t like it as a child from my earthly parents and my sinful nature doesn’t like it now either as an adult.  Just like fruit trees which need careful pruning for the best, fullest fruit to come forth, we too sometimes need to be stripped back and face realities…and yes, this is not easy.

But God is good, always, and this is why He disciplines and chastises us.  He is not some mean task master or controlling parent.  We need correction, for how else will we be able to make wise, free-will choices aligned with His will for our lives?  Furthermore, what good is an unruly child for the King’s house? I believe if we truly love The Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength because of what He has done for us, by making us His children, we will want to be an obedient child who can be used by Him…And so, even if it is with tears, we will accept His loving correction and not turn away.  Just like the lyrics by Matt Redman:

You give and take away, give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your Name… (Blessed be Your Name, Matt Redman)

I was convicted of something last night, I heard very loudly The Lord’s rebuke over my untimely action through scripture…and yes, it was very hard to hear.

At first I wondered am I hearing right?  Yet I knew I was…and I was disappointed, thinking about how foolish I had been.  Yet I also realised with God’s help that this situation is still part of a new season for me and that my heavenly Father was correcting me for my benefit.  So although it was not easy to do, I repented…I asked for forgiveness and have chosen with His help to not repeat my action…I have chosen to allow Him to prune me in this which I know will allow growth.

Scripture is just so wonderful for helping us to hear God.  Timothy 3: 16-17 is so true…'All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.'

Proverbs 3: 11-12, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, in regards to The Lord’s correction of us due to His love, is followed by verses which state true wealth is God’s wisdom…more precious than the finest jewels…a way for a peaceful life with God. 

So in this I see a very real connection…

I know that as a daughter of the living God, He will correct and chastise me because of His genuine love for me and His desire for me to live a peaceful, Christ-like life.  I understand that I am on a life-journey with Him and need to grow in His wisdom to mature, so I can be a vessel available for Him to use to help others…and that I cannot grow in wisdom if I do not stay close to Him through a daily devoted life, reading His Word.

The Lord is good always and this includes times of discipline and punishment…may we grow in maturity and be able to say, ‘Praise The Lord’ in all of life’s seasons and lessons.

Be blessed as you are corrected in His mighty love, Melanie.

Monday, 6 October 2014

4 Reasons Why It's Hard Being A Christian Leader:

I’m going to share with you today some really personal things about being someone who is gifted to share publically…someone who ends up being out the front…which ultimately is a position of leadership (whether I like to admit it or not) as being out the front in any way or sharing your ideas publically, by speaking, reading, writing, praying or singing is leading others in their worship and connecting with God.

I’m sharing this post because for those who aren’t gifted this way, I think it can be difficult to relate to those people who seem to be ‘Oh so comfortable being out there’…I think at times there can be some unfounded, damaging ideas which creep in and can actually damage our brothers or sisters in Christ who are actually just exercising their gifts.

1. Leadership is an act of obedience:  Just like the person who is gifted to silently serve by cooking out the back, a leader is gifted to do so and therefore is exercising their gift and being obedient to The Lord.  Can a leader get puffed up?  Sure, I believe so, as we are all still fallible…yet I ask you, can the silent cook get bitter and nasty and turn to gossip while serving out the back?  We know the answer…

When I serve out the front it is an act of obedience.  There is so much of me which can get stressed by being obedient in such an exposed, public way and there is something deep within which knows that if I don’t serve in this way I am actually being unfaithful to The Lord – people don’t see the prayer which goes on beforehand and my inner negative thoughts which I also need to pray away before stepping forward.

2. Leaders are sensitive too:  Sometimes it’s easy to just forget this fact when a person seems so comfortable out the front.  Usually it’s only the leader’s closest friends who get to see them in times of not leading and their heart which trusts The Lord to do such public ministry - at times receiving no affirmation or acknowledgement.

As a creative person and leader there is so much of who I am as a person being held up for others to see…this is just a reality and I can also be my own worst critic.

3. Sometimes leaders want to hide:  Because leading is so public it can be very taxing and leaders need time out to refuel and re-energise with The Lord.  Sometimes a leader can have personal stuff going on in their life and just feel like sitting and listening to the worship service, rather than leading, yet at times cannot do so.  Sometimes a leader would prefer to bury their gift in the ground rather than give a challenging sermon which they know could possible create tension with some people.

There can be an idea that leaders love being leaders, they love the attention of being out the front and to challenge people; therefore they do not need time out, yet in reality there is a part of me who at times just wants to hide.

4. Leaders can suffer persecution:  Being a leader doesn’t always equate to massive amounts of friends.  It’s not like a church leader is a celebrity (well at least here where I live).  A leader is first and foremost accountable to The Lord, their obedience to Him takes precedence and this will not always make people like them.  Being an outspoken Christian can be challenging to others and also being out the front can stir jealously within other people who desire to be gifted differently.

The road is narrow for all Christians and Jesus said His followers would suffer persecution – this includes leaders whom some think ‘have it all’.

Even this post isn’t easy to write…when a Christian uses their gifts publically they expose themselves to others and inevitably are vulnerable.  Yet a true Christian leader does so out of obedience, to serve The Lord and the body of Christ. 

It’s my heart’s desire for this post to help you to better see leaders in the future…

Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders and I tell you, yes they need it oh so much.  Let your words be a blessing to your brothers and sisters who are gifted to serve publically, encourage and build them up in Christ…If they need a rebuke, I’d advise to do it gently and lovingly, as leaders can already be their own worst critic, very sensitive and tired.

Before speaking a harsh word against your leaders to others, ask yourself is this gossip, have I prayed for them?  Because a true godly leader probably has already prayed for you, and wouldn’t say something so hurtful to others about you.  We are to love others as ourselves and this includes our leaders.

In His Service, Melanie :)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

I'm with you...

The book of Ruth is renowned for the love story of Ruth and Boaz…a beautiful story of love blooming from Ashes and of restoration…

Yet the first half of this story involves 3 women, Ruth, her sister-in-law Orpah and mother-law Noami in Moab.  After the death of all 3 husbands only Ruth lovingly stays with Noami.  The story shows godly committed love…and from a non-Jewish woman at that!  The 2 women return to Bethlehem together to start over…and the rest is wonderfully romantic, telling of God’s wonderful restoration for the 2 women.  You can read it here: Book of Ruth.

There are no accidents in God’s Word and we need to take them seriously…this godly, selfless, committed, genuine love shown by Ruth was so honoured by God that Ruth (a Moabite woman) ended up bearing a son to Boaz, becoming a part of Jesus Christ’s family line.

This godly love and commitment, I believe is how we should aim to live as Christians…walking alongside one another…ministering to one another from genuine love, not from any selfish reasons or expecting anything in return.

We can never earn our salvation and relationship with God, no amount of good loving deeds can pay the cost for our sins and none are even needed, for salvation is a gift from God. We just need to accept the free gift, repent of our sins, choosing Jesus to be in charge of our life. We can however out of gratitude and thanks, love others because of God’s awesome love for us. In fact we can't help us when we have the Holy Spirit living inside us for He is LOVE!

Yet in our fast paced, self-orientated world, we can sometimes easily get distracted from genuinely loving others and being faithfully committed to our nearest and dearest God puts us alongside…

I’ve been reminded today by the song, 'I’m with you', by Nichole Nordeman and Amy Grant based upon Naomi and Ruth to keep loving and journeying alongside the people He has put me with…to be genuinely committed, to truly be able to show Christ’s love.

Let me share the songwithyou...Be encouraged to love with no limits, just as Christ loves you!

Love Melanie.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Oh Sherrie...

Steve Perry…What a vocal range and voice!

As I heard this old timeless hit playing the other day I began singing along and felt warm, thinking of the beautiful gift of genuine love and reconciliation from God between a man and a woman…

If you’re of the opinion such a love as this isn’t from God, I ask you to try and fathom how some people have such a love like this…a love which doesn’t die, even after enduring hardships and sometimes heartbreak.  We all know stories like this and we all can relate to the power of true love holding on through storms and the immense beauty of commitment, forgiveness and reconciliation.  I challenge you to give me a convincing, logical, clinical argument; for I can’t without factoring in the source of such true love which is God Himself, for God is Love.

You should've been gone, knowing how I made you feel. And I should've been gone, after all your words of steel. Oh, I must've been a dreamer, and I must've been someone else. And we should've been over…Oh, Sherrie, our love, Holds on, holds on. Oh, Sherrie, our love, Holds on, holds on! 
Steve Perry ‘Oh Sherrie’.

Have you read the book of the Bible called Hosea?

It talks about the love of The Lord for His people in the language of a faithful husband and unfaithful wife…it talks about the incredible gift of God alluring back His people to Him from the wilderness after they have gone astray after other lovers (other false religions) and of reconciliation where The Lord is restored as the husband after repentance. The heart of God is shown in the book so beautifully and we can see Jesus on the cross suffering for our sin of idolatry (having anything else before God compared here to adultery) in the words of Hosea 11:8-9 ‘How can I give you up…my heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.’

God’s own heart recoiling within – Him taking upon our sins – a true compassionate, undeserved, sacrificial gift, reconciling us to Himself for the reality is sin eternally separates us from our Holy, pure creator…and must be dealt with.

Unfaithfulness…to my shame I know what that’s all about…

In 2005 The Lord so graciously convicted me of my sin.  I understood that I couldn’t be near Him now or when I died without it being dealt with and that I was truly lost and utterly helpless.  I knew no amount of good deeds would ever make up for my filth.  It was like all my unfaithful, selfish life choices were literally pressing down upon me and I would be dead and lost forever.

In my mind, I knew I was standing at the edge of a cliff with heaven and hell before me and I knew heaven was out of my reach…I couldn’t obtain it no matter what I did from here on…I was at the ultimate cross-road of life.

So I called out to The Lord with every ounce of strength I could muster and pleaded with Him for mercy through Jesus Christ – I knew Jesus upon the cross was the only way for me to be reconciled and restored to the one true God I could not bear imagining being eternally separated from Him, the only source of goodness and love.  I knew I totally did not deserve His mercy…I was like the unfaithful wife a man would never consider forgiving and reconciling with ever…the one who would be divorced and forgotten about, rejected forever from a decent, honourable, loyal guy...and God was that decent, honourable, loyal guy!

But God in all His glory, majesty and unfathomable love accepted me back through the only way it was possible…Jesus Christ! Just like we read in Hosea.

As I now walk through life, forgiven, cleansed and restored I stay close to Jesus as I don’t want to ever go back to whom I was…if I stuff up I need to confess it and I want to learn from it to avoid repeating it.  It grieves me now to think of hurting such an awesome, perfect, sinless saviour...

Oh Saviour, Your love, holds on…holds on
Oh Saviour, Your love, holds on, holds on.

Oh, Saviour, thank you for your steadfast, undeserved love! Keep holding on to me, Melanie.