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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Thursday, 29 December 2016

STOP holding on and just be HELD:

In my post yesterday I wrote about being more of a “Martha than Mary”, as I often express my love for Jesus through deeds and I do need to fight my flesh to stop 'keeping busy' and have quiet moments of reflection and worship...I was writing about this as I lost all the work I had done over a year on a new book, but believed I heard The Lord say to me that I needed to let go of the book as He had a better can read the post here.

The moments I have found the most difficult in my own life are the ones when I am struggling with something going on, or even something I desire is simply not happening. Yesterday's incident was a minor storm in comparison to some I have endured.

When I was a relatively new Christian I heard a woman deliver a message related to her own life with a warning that the Christian life was not easy, and to be prepared for the unexpected storm that would come and knock one flat. When I heard this I was actually both a little shocked and upset thinking, “My pre-Christian life was such a struggle, and since turning to Christ has been wonderful. I understand I may face persecution for my faith but being knocked down flat, I don't think so. Perhaps this woman is bitter, also she has been a Christian her whole life and doesn't have MY past! No, God will protect me and won't allow such tragedy to happen...” This woman's speech was in a series and I liked everyone's message, including her's...Just not the warning! I thought, “Who does she think she is...she doesn't know what will happen in my life!”

What I did not realise was this woman was wise, much wiser and mature than me. For indeed times have come when I have fallen to my knees and called out to The Lord in desperation...and yes, this was way later than when I repented and was saved!

Yet this is something I have found to be true...

The Lord may allow storms to impact our lives but it is to grow us in our faith. He may take something away, or allow someone to leave, but if He does it is a necessary work of pruning to make way for something worth much more to come forth!

I know what it is like to feel disappointed, or to be in a season of winter while awaiting new growth. If you're in this place please do not despair or turn away from Him. Rather trust in the truth that He is good and has a great plan, so much bigger than our own dreams, and hold on tight for the fresh joy will come in the right time!

It may be years, where you only see tiny promising buds but do not lose hope. NEVER FORGET our God is a miracle worker, who also grows us through trials to become more and more like Jesus. When things aren't great that's when we truly have to exercise faith.

No-one is inspired by a testimony that has no real struggle or message of deliverance coming from God alone...and when we pray, “Jesus save me, make me Yours...forgive me and transform me!” We are praying for Jesus to make our life a testimony to HIS GLORY!

There is nothing more powerful than a Christian's life testimony to impact other human beings, because without a testimony to God's power all our good deeds are simply humanitarian good deeds. Oh how He desires our lives to be living testimonies to his Goodness, Faithfulness and Power!

Yesterday I did lose my entire year's work on the book I was writing. It felt like another disappointment but I did think I heard The Lord basically say, "Let go and trust me, I have a better plan" and I felt this had to do with music. Oh the spiritual attack of doubts and fear came, but I kept praying and continued to work on a new song. I finished the song and was happy with it and after practicing it today I began strumming some chords and singing a tune from deep within...I just let go and worshiped, playing and strumming. What came out was an amazing worship song from The Lord...So simple, moving and beautiful, all in maybe 60 seconds! I kid you not...The verse, pre-chorus and chorus all just flowed out in that moment of surrendered worship.

I just had to share this as I feel so encouraged and strengthened by what just happened. I love you all. May you also be blessed by worshiping Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and experience this intimacy as I have. For indeed it is His BREATH in our lungs and it is in Him we live and move and have our existence and purpose.

Never forget we have a GOOD FATHER in heaven, who LOVES us more than we could ever imagine. He desires for us to become more and more like Jesus from our experiences, and obedient to His will and good plan for our lives, so that His Kingdom work here will be done as it is in heaven. Never give up your HOPE in Him to meet you needs and carry you through the storms. FRESH JOY will come! Be free from any fear that clings close by praying, “Your will be done and not mine...protect me and guide my steps...shut this door if it is not Your will for me!”

Love Mel.

Let me leave you to reflect upon these lyrics and the song, 'Just be held' from Casting Crowns:

Just Be Held

Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting, Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender, Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm, You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross, You'll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted, In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes, Your life is in My hands

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Whole Year's Work LOST!

I'm on a holiday break from work at the moment, and truth be told I am somewhat of a “Martha” in how I express my love for Jesus...I can find it difficult to not work at times and just rest.

So, this morning with no set plans for the day, I decided I would do some work on a devotional I had been working on for over the past year or more. I was thinking of calling this new book, 'A Desert Flower Blooming', as it was a devotional based on my personal 'wilderness' experience and of course scripture. The theme was based upon what I believe The Lord had said to me after being in the 'wilderness' for a few years. It was something like, 'Don't wait until you're out of this wilderness to bloom for me, do it now!' Even though it was something personal I believe I needed to hear, I felt it may help others, and so I decided to write a book with all new content not published on the blog.

There were at times I wondered how much of 'my idea' the book was, but with quite a heavy workload I found the book to be a good outlet. It was also something that made me feel productive by giving me something to be 'working towards', because creative people, like myself, often find long-term projects tiresome.

I hadn't worked on the book for some months due to family, finishing work, moving back to Victoria, starting my new job and Christmas...No surprise there! But I had also enjoyed the break as I felt The Lord was still revealing new things that could impact the book.

This morning, after a lazy beginning I turned my laptop on, (still not entirely sure how much of the book idea was mine or God's) only to realise my laptop was new – My old one had 'died' when I dropped it some months back in South Australia and THAT was the laptop I had been using...Not this one! With some panic rising, I searched my one external hard drive and no, it was not there...I came to realise I had no way of retrieving my work.

I admit my first thought was a very fleshly one something like... “But I've told people about this new book! Oh my, people will either think I made it up, or that I'm stupid for not backing up...”

Yet, I have felt very strongly, recently that The Lord moved me back to Victoria for a fresh joy and new beginning for family and pastoral ministry/music purposes. None of which are related to a published writing career! Indeed I have been hearing His voice clearly time and time again over the past six months or so in relation to many things (moving back to Victoria is just one). The wonderful thing with hearing His voice over many years, is you actually do get better at distinguishing it from your own thoughts.

What I believe I heard this morning was something my pride did not really like so much...It was, “This work was not meant to be published, it was just between you and me, I'm calling you to a new thing...” So then I prayed (hoping I heard wrong) something like, “Lord, if it's your will for me to have this work let it be so!” I continued searching but could not find it, and found myself having to let go of this book idea, knowing the writing was meant to stay personal and cathartic.

I admit I was disappointed for a little while, as I had been excited about the idea of possibly being professionally published (yes, vain I know). I did contemplate taking the laptop to a professional to see if they could somehow retrieve the book...But honestly I don't think this is The Lord's will. You see, the thing with getting better at hearing His voice (I have found) is that it gets easier when you are obedient. And I really don't want to go backwards because seriously, who likes being confused? Not me! I've been there in the past with disobedience to His 'smaller, still voice' and following the louder, more exciting voice of my own.

I feel The Lord so gently and lovingly, has asked me to let go of this idea of mine which served a purpose over the past year, and to once again trust Him with His good plan for me. So I am letting go and letting Him lead, and in this I have His peace.

I am reminded once again, that my Father is Good and LOVES me more than I can fathom. I am a daughter of The King who loves me irrespective of what I ever do or produce! It is perfectly acceptable to rest and wait and it is much more profitable (for myself and others) to follow His leading more than my own ideas.

Love, as always, Melanie.

Let me leave you with, "Trust in You" by Laura Daigle.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Spoiler Alert: God doesn't save us to go to heaven!

Okay I'm sure my title has grabbed your attention.

If you're offended, please stay with me for a short while and hear what I have to say, because even if you've been taught differently, I want to share with you what the Bible actually says about us being saved.

If you've been taught Jesus came so you can go to heaven, I'm sorry but you haven't been told the whole truth. I think this part-truth, is sadly why so many people wait to seek forgiveness from God until their death bed, or just ignore salvation altogether, believing life with God is no fun and lacks purpose.

But this couldn't be further from the truth, as the truth is God does not save us just to go to heaven.

Now if I've started your mind spinning, just keep reading...

You see, many, many people have heard...God saves us so we can go and be with Him in heaven. This is why many children ask, “But what will we do forever in heaven?” and many adults have no answer.

Yet the truth is Jesus saves us to make us a child of God, because we do not begin life as one...We begin life separated from God by sin which is why WE MUST HAVE a spiritual re-birth. It is the blessed Holy Spirit who makes us heirs to God's Kingdom which is to come HERE ON EARTH when Jesus returns, and as children of God we are saved to serve our Father and King in His redeeming work.

If we die before Jesus returns, yes we will rest in heaven, but if not, we will be transformed in the blink of an eye to receive our immortal bodies, along with every other child of God and we will inherit the NEW EARTH.

So no, we are NOT SAVED just to go to heaven for eternity. This is simply not biblical.

'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.' 1 Corinthians 15:52.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4.

When Jesus returns, sin and the enemy, will be dealt with for the final time. Now is the time for us as His children to share this truth, so others can also become children of God.

We are saved to partner with God as His children in His Kingdom work...what an amazing purpose this truly is and this is the truth people need to hear! God saves us and transforms us, making us fit for His work while we await His return.

Titus says this truth so clearly:

'For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:11-14.

'For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.
I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone.' Titus 3:3-9.

Did you know God has a purpose and plan for His Kingdom work to begin here and now before He returns? That this is the role His children have as His heirs? That salvation is not just to fit us for heaven?

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with Casting Crowns, 'Glorious Day'.

Friday, 23 December 2016

A New Song.

So many times when I have felt low, The Lord has directed me to psalms where the authors, despite their troubles give praise to The LORD.

Individual psalms are diverse from each other yet they proclaim the truth of God's goodness, righteousness, justice and sovereignty. Psalmists offer praise and thanks despite their current circumstances...holding steadfast onto the unchanging truth; God's character and commitment to us as both His work of creation and as His redeemed children.

This is what I believe it means to, 'Sing a new song to The Lord' with our lives. We are to live a life of praise to The One who has redeemed us. We 'sing a new song' because it is a song only a redeemed person who becomes a child of God through Jesus can sing...the 'old' flesh cannot sing this joyous song, it can only sing a dirge.

'Sing to him a new song' Ps 33:3a.

To 'sing a new song' is to live a life of hope, despite our circumstances because our God is 'A God of hope'.

Romans 15:13, 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' This is God working in us to lead a life that is not like the rest of the world, so we shine like lights.

'O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.' Ps 98:1

'Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth...for he is coming to judge the earth.' Ps 98:4a;9b

What a marvelous work He has done in us – This should give us the courage to persevere in hope that the trouble we are enduring will pass. Tomorrow is always a new day. Each day holds new possibilities and new miracles...having that hope is us exercising our faith in the One who is unchanging! Furthermore, Jesus is coming and therefore we are to live our lives as redeemed children by a new anthem, a new song of hope because of what is to come upon His return. We will be vindicated and both the earth and all His people will be restored to perfection.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100).

Should this not be our anthem to live as Christians?

We are the redeemed and we should live our life as a new, joyous song, which proclaims this reality and offer to all people.

Are you feeling worn and tired, do you feel like you're lacking joy? It's okay of you are, I have experienced that and really don't think it represents a lack of commitment.

But I know that our God is the God of hope and He desires us to live 'a new song' – so if you need encouragement, read the psalms which encourage us to sing the truth despite our circumstances, and to hope in what He will do in the right timing; for that is real faith and He desires to grow this in us.

Remember The Lord is faithful and just and will not overlook your troubles. Keep prayerful, watchful and optimistic – everyday is a new opportunity for you to witness what He is doing if you take the time to look, and is an opportunity for new miracles to be birthed.

'O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.' Ps 98:1.'For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.' Jer 29:11.

Love Melanie.

'Sing a new song', worship set by Bethel church:

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas 2016

For me Christian holidays are often a time when culturally and socially I connect with others through the season, and find the opportunity for reflection and recalibration in regards to my life and relationships. I find Christmas being in December a good time to reflect upon the year past and to l look forward to the new year and Easter; as to how I may live the next year in the revelation of the resurrected One...

Now this all may sound very 'church like' to you and I agree it is...But that's because I don't go to church services to connect with God for one day only. I go to church services with an expectation to leave encouraged and strengthen for my daily Christian life. You see for me, I don't think I would go to church services if I did not experience growth and change and find myself living out what I've been taught at church...

Personally even though I walk each day with Jesus, I still find Christian holidays a chance in my busy life to reflect more intentionally and deeply on either the birth or death and resurrection of Christ, and what this means practically for me and my three sons. Indeed Christmas and Easter are annual and therefore seem to arrive so quickly; yet I still find when these holidays arrive I examine my life. Each holiday season I find myself and my little family in a new stage of our life together, and therefore my reflection as to how we will live out the reality Jesus has set before us changes.

Christmas 2016 for me is the fifth as a single woman with the responsibility of raising three young men on my own. I have my sons 100% of the time and this is the first Christmas where I am very aware of their maturity into male adulthood...My 3 sons are no longer three little boys.

So I sit here in our beautiful country home and ponder...

I reflect upon what the meaning of Christ's birth this Christmas means for us practically as a family. And what this means for me as head of our family. What this means as with Jesus beside me, I work to raise three young men into godly men, mostly alone.

Now please don't get me wrong, I am not sad or negative about the challenge my life presents as a single Christian parent. I really do know I am NOT alone, I feel Jesus with me all the time...but in practical ways I am mostly on my own. I do feel so grateful our home is one with Jesus in it. I am extremely thankful for how abundantly blessed we are; for even though I am single we are well provided for.

This Christmas season my thoughts have been focused on the importance of FAMILY - Of making the most of being blessed to be a mother with full-time care of her children, and the freedom to impart the truth of Christianity.

So I sit here thinking of the great gift Jesus is to us. For He is the only way we can become a part of God's family...The only way we can be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God who is without sin. I think of The One who is so great becoming one of us, and serving us in such humility to make us His brothers and sisters that I am drawn to wanting this holiday to be in some way for us, a practical expression of this reality.

So I am choosing to give my sons this season the gift of serving each other as family should...even if it is only a dim reflection of Jesus' service. For if Jesus gave us Himself in servitude to make us His family when we turn to Him, we need to mature into loving servants, and this lesson starts at home.

So aside from an actual Christmas present, I am intentionally giving my sons this season more responsibilities. More chores and opportunities to serve one another. I am letting my sons become young men. I am buying less gifts and expecting them to give more of their time and effort to thankfully serve their family they are blessed to have. I am trying to lead us into not focusing on what we do not have, rather upon each other and the eternal life we have thanks to Jesus.

Jesus is the true light who came into the world as the star shone over Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago. He did not give us an example of wealth, greed and gluttony, rather one of resisting our flesh, love and servant-hood...He gave us the true example of family love which is sacrificial.

So this is my heart this Christmas season. How can we (me and my three sons), do FAMILY this holiday time in a way which honours Jesus and is different to how unbelievers are spending this time? How can we live the reality that God made the way for us to become His children, to become a part of His family by becoming a human being? How can we do FAMILY His way this holiday time, to set us up for the new year approaching?

I feel the need to finish this post by saying our focus this Christmas and every Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ; regardless of this time of year in the past being a pagan holiday ~ For God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I believe what once was a pagan holiday became a time for the gospel to be celebrated and proclaimed by Christians and I believe this is something my family and I can be thankful for. This holiday is 'clean' for us (1 Corinthians 8), so please respect this.

Merry Christ-mas, love Melanie.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Make Me A River: The Discipleship Decision.

Living takes a decision once life is given. Or to put it another way, once life is given, it takes a conscience decision to keep living.

In the womb where life begins, a decision is made by the mother to love and care for her child inside...Then after bursting out it is not too long before the child makes many decisions to foster their life on their own.

Life is so precious and The God I know, Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to have life as it was created to be – a life of love and joy in abundance, for all eternity through and in Him!

But recently I have been surrounded by an almost overwhelming amount of grief and loss.

Too many people are being touched by a desire to end their life, or hurt themselves, or are suffering because ones they love are feeling this way, or may have already chosen to end their own life.

It seems so many are sticking their heads in the ground, or hiding under their bed covers hoping that tomorrow when or if, they take their head out all will be well again...Hoping it is all just a passing storm or a bad dream they will awake from.

I know what it is like to hide. To hide from The One whom I knew was calling me.

Far too long I hid away and suffered silently with anxiety, trying to cope on my own. Choosing to hide my secret in the dark rather than coming to The Light, Jesus Christ. This was real hopelessness and is why so many people keep suffering, and why others do not know how to truly help others in their own life who are struggling...

There is healing available in Jesus. When Jesus was here on earth, people took their sick to Him and they were healed. This healing is still available today but people must be willing to go to Jesus and to lead others to Him.

True love heals...but it costs us our pride.

We must come to a place of acknowledging all our efforts are like bandaids and we cannot solve the deep problem of our empty souls, and selfish sin.

True love heals. It costs us our pride but it comes with the free gift of forgiveness, salvation and re-birth from Jesus.

This is why true healing is transformative. It is holistic.

This is why Jesus forgave people's sins as well as healed their physical ailments and He still does today.

People must make the decision to choose life. They must choose to give up their pride and receive the gift of forgiveness and life.

Life is NOT simply existing, to then die a death where one is left separated from God. Real Life is NOT autonomous, purposeless, and lonely.

It is a Life that rises each day with Jesus, basks in His love, and feels His embrace in both the times of laughter and of hardship...It is a Life that has purpose and meaning in Jesus...A Life that pours out His healing LOVE to others wherever they may be.

It is an individual who has chosen to be a disciple...An individual who does not expect to be discipled by someone else, rather grasps the gift of True Life which has been given to them through Jesus and prays moment by moment:
“Father make me a river, come Living Water flow through me. You are The One that I thirst for, so come Living Water flow through me. Guide every step I take. Lord let me not wander away. Father, fill every word I speak with the same grace you've given me. Touch the world with my hands, they are Yours. Let my love show the lost that You are Lord...Father make me a river.” (Casting Crowns)

We are not saved to just go to heaven. We are saved to have Real Life that is lived with God in us, and to pass this good news of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation to others.

Have you made The Discipleship Decision yourself or are you waiting to be discipled? Are you seeking to become a river with all you heart, soul, mind and strength to reach the lost? Don't wait...Others need to receive His love through you so they may be freed from a life of hopelessness!

Love Mel x

(This post has been somewhat inspired by 'Make Me A River' By Casting Crowns, so let me leave you with the song)

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Stop Striving and Start Following...

There is joy and peace when we stop striving and start following.

Life is often challenging. Here in Australia I think it’s fair to say the struggles of the majority are not always the same as those in third world countries. It is still a small percentage of people here compared to the rest of the country who struggle to find a meal or a place to sleep…our basic standard of living is much higher.

Statistics I have heard seem to highlight social and mental health issues. Dysfunction seems to be like a cancer eating away the joy of many, yes way too many people here in Australia from my observations of real life.

This problem has symptoms of a lack of joy and peace in people’s lives. I’ve purposely left out ‘purpose’ because I see the struggle in people who seem to have their purpose sorted out…yes people with great professional careers and this includes those who profess Christ.

My heart aches for people; people who seem to try so hard, yet unintentionally display actions which scream out a life lacking peace and joy. Actions which lack love, empathy, compassion, gentleness and humility. Actions which scream, “Why is life so hard?” and, “I will do whatever it takes for my life to be successful!”

My heart aches for people like this because I know this struggle myself. I don’t think anyone is immune from this struggle…this life-sucking, depleting cancer-type problem. I do however believe there is an antidote.

This is the antidote: I truly believe there is joy and peace when we stop striving in our own strength and ideas, and start simply following Jesus as His disciple.

What does this mean?

It means when we STOP striving to ‘make a successful life’ or caring about becoming a leader. To stop worrying about what other people think. To stop waiting for the ‘next chapter’ before we freely love and give. To stop having ourselves and our own life as an idol – idols can come in many forms; relationships, wealth, status, material items and so on…even being a great Christian leader! You see, there’s nothing wrong in working hard (the bible endorses such behaviour), the problem is when the end goal becomes our first priority, and we don’t continue to journey in humility with Jesus.

It's like we say, “Thanks Jesus for saving me, I’ll see you in heaven when I get there, chat later or actually when I get stuck again! You’re the best!”
And then when things go wrong in our life, and we lack peace and joy from the continual hard-effort and slog we say, “What? This isn’t what I agreed to when I accepted Jesus…Where is my peace and joy?”

We MUST come back to a place of prayerful, humble examination before The Lord and realise we have made ourselves Lord rather than obedient, disciple.

A disciple lives each day in humility at His feet and service, seeking the welfare of others first - receiving His joy and sustenance to do so, and His peace to sleep securely each night.

A disciple lets their life go, not just once, but each day, and lets Jesus be in charge.

A disciple stops striving to achieve and enjoys the journey; waiting with expectant joy for the good plan to unfold…

The enemy wants to discredit the testimony of Jesus to save and transform, so will attack your resolve to continue life as a disciple.

A chapter of scripture which has really helped me is Isaiah 42.

This chapter begins by speaking of Jesus. The ‘light to the nations’ whom saves us from eternal separation from God. The One whom is our ‘new covenant’…who imputes us His robes of righteousness, who sets us free from the darkest, internal prison. The One who gives us true reason to sing a ‘new song of joy and praise’ each and every day…giving our life a new definition!

Verses 1-9 give us Jesus, the ‘light of the nations’ – the light which we with Him in us as born-again Christians reflect to the world. This ‘light’ is gentle, righteous and faithful.

Verses 10-17 is an amazing testimony to what God through Jesus Christ will do in the lives of individuals. He will give them a voice to joyfully sing and shout out His praise and proclamation for He will transform their lives from a barren wasteland and darkness, into lives of peace and joy when they give up their idols.

Verses 18-20 are so powerful for us as disciples as they describe how our lives should be; totally dedicated just as Jesus was and still is.

Verses 21-25 introduce chapter 43 which speaks of full restoration which The LORD is doing and will complete through Jesus when Jesus returns.

Are you struggling to know Jesus’ joy and peace? 

If so, I urge you to let go of your striving and let Him be in charge. Let go of any idol which is trying to cling close and take the rightful place of Jesus. Remember EVERYTHING here is temporary, only our souls are not. Pray without ceasing to know His will, and then obediently walk in it; for there you will find His peace and joy and energy to do so, for you will remain close to Him and not distant.

Remember the yolk of Jesus is not heavy and depleting, it is light and easy. His service will build you up and bear MUCH fruit for His glory and Kingdom. In Him, as a humble disciple you will find the antidote…the One who is the fount of true joy and peace!

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with Kari Jobe, 'Be still my soul'.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Cultivating Connectedness

We’re not designed to live solo…

We are made in the image of the One who was already in perfect relationship within the trinity and we are designed to be in communion with Him and each other…

Yet from what I’ve read loneliness is one of the biggest problem’s facing our western societies today. What used to be a problem for mostly older people, according to my study at the end of 2015, loneliness was the largest problem for youth in Australia…yes above bullying and mental illness….and let’s not forget the middle aged people, I know people of my age who feel disconnected, isolated and alone.

In a day-and-age when here in the West we are more connected via technology more than ever before, why is loneliness taking new victims at rapid speed?

From what I’ve read academics suggest each individual needs at least 4-5 core people they are connected with to not feel disconnected from a group, or alone. They need 4-5 key people to encourage and uplift them, who rarely take from the relationship to feel secure, and then able to feed back into other relationships which are more taxing on their time and emotions.

In my opinion from simply living life, it’s my observation that many due to life challenges, fall into a trap of faithless existence and of isolating themselves from others…You see, we all want great friends and our church communities to be an epicenter of real loving interaction, yet due to life knocking us down, we sit back and wait for friends to come to us…or worse still when we make a new acquaintance, we don’t put in as our own needs are so high; we demand too much from our new friend and lose them.

I have been in large congregations and felt lonely and not cared for. Yet I have been in large congregations and felt loved as a handful of people have reached out to me.
I have been in small churches and wondered, “Who else will you speak to today if not me?” Yet I have been in small churches where I have felt a part of the family and accepted.

I don’t think the size of the congregation matters, I think the attitude of the people does. It’s an attitude of faith, hope and love as Corinthians 13 speaks of that matters. Furthermore, it is only by exercising our faith through serving our brothers and sisters, by being a true, faithful friend that we in turn will receive back solid, Christian support and friendship...real connection and community!

Proverbs 18:24 speaks of a true friend that sticks closer than a brother. As the Church are we being that type of friend to others, and are we willing to cultivate church groups which live this? Are we willing to extend ourselves to make our lives and communities ones which; genuinely care, engage and encourage others, and celebrate the success of others?

We need to remember whatever we desire, others desire too.

I had something happen today which has been personally challenging, but I decided to reach out for support by a group prayer request. I did this because I decided to not isolate myself and to allow my brothers and sisters to help me carry this burden. I did this because this is the support I want to cultivate in my own life and is the support I am willing to extend back to others.

We are not designed to do life solo and I truly thank The Lord for His children whom He has given me to do life with. I am not alone – I have The Lord and my brothers and sisters. I know I go through challenges but I also know that they enable me to draw close to The Lord for true comfort and later extend that comfort with true empathy back to others (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Yes, we’re not designed to live solo…We are made in the image of the One who was already in perfect relationship within the trinity and we are designed to be in communion with Him and each other…May you know and cultivate this connection in your own life!

Love Mel.

Let me leave you with the inspiring, Tim Timmons...

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Trump/Hillary Warfare: A Christian's Response.

I haven't written much for the blog recently, in fact I haven't really been online very much. It's suited me personally moving interstate and having a new job and a new house to focus upon, while all the US election warfare between Trump and Hillary supporters has been going on...and yes, still continues.

For some time, I have found myself logging out as quickly as I logged in to social media sites, as very quickly I would become nauseous at the un-Christ like postings from Christian contacts.

Now I personally am not one to shy away from giving my opinion, or sharing something of value, in person or online. However the recent bombardment of unrestrained, slanderous, prideful, hateful and condemning posts and remarks has turned my stomach and has not fed me in any beneficial way so I needed to log out. I have disengaged with sadness in my heart, due to what many are promoting Christianity to be...a life that is anything but peaceful and Christ-like.

I do want to acknowledge that I have not always acted online or in person in a way which brings honour to Jesus, but this is my aim. It seems all too easy today for people to post a meme which says something like, “just because I'm a Christian doesn't mean I'm perfect”, seeming to somehow give license to ungodly behaviour online – when in fact scripture tells us to be perfect as He is (Matthew 5:48). It also says we are to be holy as He is (1 Peter 1:16).

While many Christians understand we are Christ's hands and feet, they seem to forget that we are accountable for our words (Matthew 12:36-37) because whoever claims to have Jesus living inside them must live as He did (1 John 2:6).

Some argue they have a right to protest, and I agree, yes we do...but we must not let our anger lead us to sin (Ephesians 4:26) and Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” Matthew 5:9. Some say in defense that Jesus turned over the tables in the temple court and used a whip to drive out the animals...but He said they had turned His Father's house into a marketplace rather than a house of prayer...So let me ask are our bodies (the new temple) a house of prayer and peace?

Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” We are called to respond to others gracefully, not start fights. Jesus also tells us to not worry about what we will say in defense of our faith for he will provide the words that will simply confound others (Luke 21:15)...but whose words are we speaking? Scripture says no unwholesome words should come out of our mouths, rather ones which edify others (Ephesians 4:29).

It seems so many do not know scripture for themselves...

In a day-and-age when we have scripture at our fingertips in so many formats, many seem to be drawn to sit at the feet of anyone else other than Jesus. Many seem drawn to teachers to 'explain the Word' rather than being fed from the source Himself. They therefore lack the ability to discern and weigh the words of others against scripture. Many say, “I wish I knew more scripture!” or even, “How do you know that?” as if there is some secret to knowing God's Word. The truth is God promises to write His Word upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16), all we need do is come to Him prayerfully in humility and spend time with Him reading the Bible...He does the rest as He desires for us to be faithful disciples.

The fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10), so let us not forget Jesus said we will need to give an account for every idle word spoken (Matthew 12:36). Have I ever spoken idle words, or words I regret? Yes. But it's my heart that matters. We may feel the need to repent but this is not condemnation, forgiveness is always available, we just need to keep examining our heart. Who is Lord over us? Is it our country?

As Christians we know the end-of-the-story and The United States of America or Australia are not the star of the story! May we never forget that every thing here will pass away...heaven and earth will pass away...every word will cease except that of The Word of God! Are we speaking Words of eternal value to others or do we just sound like the rest of the world?

Many of my blog posts do not contain so much scripture like this one, usually it underlines them...but my head and heart are hurting at the lack of self-application and so I know no other way to write this appeal. If you feel you have been overtaken by online interaction, I urge you to put your energy into a ministry that is grounded in real-life. You may think, but I am unable due to my current circumstances...but I challenge you to think about the amount of hours you're putting into being online and of how your hands could be put to better use...instead of typing from your armchair, perhaps you could knit squares for a charity making blankets for the needy? That's just one idea...How can you show love today?

Love Melanie.

Monday, 24 October 2016

When God Says Go!

There are times in one's life when time seems to drag...each day like a week and each week like a marathon...Have you ever felt as if 3 months have been a year? Do you know what I mean?
Times like this are hard for me. I have experienced the long haul and wondered, “How long Lord?”

Yet when God He moves! When He ordains your steps and opens a door, there is no doubt that one must move, and one must move immediately...Have you also experienced this?

It is times like this when so much can happen in such a short amount of time. Sometimes, some things we know that would've taken us months to plan and arrange, can happen as if over night when The Lord works. I think of Paul and Silas in jail one evening and free a few moments later! I think of the Israelites before the Passover, with the command to make unleavened bread in preparation to move quickly...This has been the past month, or even less than, for me.

A month ago I would not have thought I would be writing this post.

Around a month ago I was shocked to hear the news that my dear Christian brother and blogging mentor, Bill Kraski, had passed. I remember shortly before his death, along with other Christian friends, Bill was praying I would find a new house to move to. I was nearing 12 months living and working here in South Australia. Yet very shortly after Bill was gone I began struggling to find a new house that was suitable for our needs here and I began to wonder what God would provide for my boys and I. I also admit I became a bit anxious. What a whirlwind the last month has been which is why I haven't posted anything new!

When I began to feel as if I may not find a suitable house in time (my lease was expiring) I also had a thought that perhaps The Lord may be closing the doors here in South Australia, so that the boys and I could return home to Victoria. At first I dismissed the thought but when it kept returning I decided to have a look and see what may be available work-wise online.

In a VERY short amount of time I had my pastor's blessing, a new full-time chaplaincy position, and house secured back in Victoria! 

Everything else has fell into place too. Not one detail has not worked to perfect timing, and I must admit although I know God can and does work like this, I am still awed He has ONCE AGAIN ordained my steps and provided so amazingly! I am once again floored by His love for me, just an an ordinary Aussie woman.

I often say to people if I wrote down all the amazing things that happen so often in my life people wouldn't believe me...Sometimes I just share one simple story and people are amazed...But I believe my life is full of amazing stories because He is in it, and He gives me the eyes to see Him at work so that I continue to trust Him and that He WILL do the same for everyone who becomes His child through Jesus!

This is NOT to say that I don't struggle – that I don't have hard times, because I do. There are times like I said, when days and weeks drag on and on, with multiple stresses all happening at once and overlapping with many new ones. Yet I still see Him at work; in making a way when there seems to be none, by softening hearts, and through sustaining and encouraging when we are weary.

There are times when He says STAY. WAIT. ENDURE. REST. STICK-IT-OUT. But there are times when He says GO, go now, do not delay.

As children of God we are not self-governing. 

The narrow path is indeed a surrendered life. A life which is alive to Him living within, governing all our actions, words and thoughts and this is true peace.

Peace because we are in such a close and intimate relationship with The One True God living within. Peace because we are free from the bondage of our flesh. Peace because we are free to choose yes to His good and personal plan.

Perhaps you don't have His peace that your life is following His personal plan for you...

This could be because you've fallen into some sort of sin which is trapping you. Don't despair, take time to prayerfully examine yourself with Him and His Word (the Bible) and repent. Repent is to turn away from facing your sin and to face Him again – it is a 180deg turn. Confess your rebellion and receive His forgiveness and peace. I have needed to do this in the past, and I believe all Christians do too from time to time.

So that is all my news for now. This time next week, God willing we will be in our new home and I will have just finished my first day in my new job. I am sad knowing Bill will not read this post and know about our new adventure unfolding...but I am also happy knowing he is still somewhere much better!

When God says, "Go!" you'd better...So yes, we're obeying and praising Him at the same time.

Love Melanie.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Living life as a Successful Single Christian: Debunking 2 common and contradictory well-meaning remarks.

So this post is where my thoughts are at in regards to living a successful life as a single Christian and it comes from my own experience of almost five years being single and knowing what it's like to be married (for those of you who don't know my story). This post comes about from having found myself in the past being confused by what some well-meaning Christian people have said and things I've read which for me were unhelpful and in my opinion, contradictory...I don't want to offend, rather hope this will help some Christian singles who are perhaps struggling.

The two remarks I want to focus on today are:

God has someone for you but it'll happen only when you're totally satisfied in Him” and then on the other hand “It's NOT good for man to be alone...”

I would like to say...Can we PLEASE stop it with these well-meaning, often regurgitated comments. On behalf of single people I'd like to ask people to please not discuss someone’s singleness unless they bring it up, and you have an existing, close relationship with the person! I mean seriously, when someone wants to sprout 'spiritual talk' at me, yet has never had a coffee with me, I am not impressed. Sorry if that's harsh, I'm just being honest.

Our heart should always be to care for someone else before speaking.

So here goes:

I do not think it's very helpful at all when people imply that because a Christian is still single, yet desires to be married, they must not be totally satisfied with Christ. I am left to wonder, do these people think before they write these articles, or speak this over people? I mean sure, perhaps the single Christian has more healing to do, or more to learn before meeting someone, but this is very different to not being 'totally satisfied' in their relationship with Jesus. This comment in the past, left me feeling hurt and confused. I was confused as I felt so close to Jesus and I knew I had given up everything to follow Him...He was my all-in-all. I felt hurt wondering, was I somehow less spiritual than I should be because the desire to be married had not gone, yet I was still single...

And then the comment of 'It's not good for man to be alone'. Sure this helps us understand God's heart for relationship, but this phrase can also make single Christians feel as if their life is less-than because of their singleness, and can urge them into settling for the wrong person. The truth is our need for human relationship can be fulfilled from non-sexual, non-marital relationships, with close Christian friends. Our sexual desire probably won't go away, but we can live a great life in purity by having accountability with our trusted friends, and by not wallowing, for we have our purpose in Jesus, single or not.

In past years, I spent far too many hours struggling with unhelpful comments like these two, and I became somewhat fixated upon myself rather than keeping my eyes upon Jesus and living for Him. Sure there were plenty of articles that spoke about serving 'while waiting' but they also added that when one came to a place of 'fulfilment' in singleness the 'right person' would come along...You see the idea being sprouted is that serving 'keeps us busy' while we wait to somehow become more spiritual. Now again, I don't want to sound harsh...but I've seen plenty of immature Christians pairing up and plenty of mature ones remaining single. I can also tell you 'keeping busy serving' is not the right heart for our relationship with Christ!

For my own well-being I needed to come to a place of accepting I am not needing to become 'more spiritual' for 'Mr. Right' to come along. I don't know if even having a 'Mr. Right' mentality is even helpful, as it could elevate men or women too highly perhaps...I've come to think that maybe there are a lot of 'Mr. Rights' out there...I mean my Christian brothers are cool guys! And please don't get me started on that 'other half' rubbish I hear 'Christians' babbling...It's ancient Greek mythology! I believe as a daughter of God I have a choice and should be wise in my decision and that my Father will advise me rightly, as long as I keep my focus upon Him!

I do agree that it's not good for us to be alone...but this need does not have to be met by one person who must be my husband! I need to keep my eyes fixed upon Jesus and ministering with Him every day, not to keep busy while waiting for something better to come along.

The most miserable people I know are stagnate people with hardly any friends...and you know what? They're not just single people...

Here's my conclusion: Find your own life and purpose in living with and for Jesus, then do it again and again without expecting to meet the love of your life...Then if you meet someone, don't over-spiritualise it, make a wise choice based on whether or not they will be someone whom you can minister with, and don't settle, keep Jesus as Number One to be found faithful when He returns or calls you home!

Let me leave you with a song that sums it all up...a perfect anthem to meditate upon, love Mel xx