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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

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.