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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Am I called for ministry, and if so, what is my personal biblical model?

Okay weird title, I admit it, but it’s an actual legitimate question Christians are asked in Bible College here in Australia, and also some may personally consider. Over the course of my own Christian walk I have thought about this question many, many times, but not only that, I have also questioned the validity of the actual question itself and continue to do so from a heart of genuine pastoral care for the Church.

I first began bible college knowing I had been asked (along with every other believer) to follow Jesus with my whole life. I knew that a part of this new journey was growing in sound bible knowledge and furthermore without a ‘degree’ in Australia I would be basically unable to work full-time in ministry.

From my experience at Bible College, I found that knowing I was asked to follow Jesus with my whole life from scripture was no longer enough of an answer. We were challenged to really ‘test the call’ and to dig into scripture to find our personal ministry model; for example the Shepherd, or the Feeding of the Five Thousand, or the Woman at the Well, to name a few.

I personally felt the example of the disciples following Jesus where He led them was solid enough. I pondered why I needed to ‘peg down’ my personal calling when I felt my calling to follow, was both personal and inclusive of all Christians based on scripture. I wondered why I had to choose one ‘model’ when being 'adaptable' seemed to me to be more scriptural. When I questioned the task I was advised to just follow the process, and prayerfully choose a model. I was assured this was okay as it could change down the track. I wasn’t really satisfied but I did what was asked.

Over the years I’ve pondering this ‘foundational task’ for future ministry direction, my personal answer to the question, and indeed the validity of the question itself for our own wellbeing.

Let me quickly just say this post isn’t meant to be an in-depth, theological response rather I hope, a point of discussion and further consideration.

I am still wondering today the purpose of the question, its validity, and furthermore it’s influence on the Church…I’ll try and keep this brief.

You see, I keep coming back to Jesus and the main 12 disciples, as this is the biblical testimony to the foundation of His Church. 


His ministry wasn’t just one of feeding, or healing, or teaching. His ministry was establishing His Church before dying and rising to life, for the final sacrifice and atonement for sin, so we could be forgiven and reconciled to God as His children for eternity.

Jesus’ ministry was the one His Father gave Him.

Before His ascension Jesus commissioned all believers to take the gospel into all the world and make disciples…Why do we complicate this?

Why don’t we look to what we’ve been given?

Scripture states from St Paul “Let each of you remain in the condition in which you were called.”1 Corinthians 7:20.

This is NOT a scripture to ‘do nothing’. It is not even asking us to question or ‘test’ our call. 1 Corinthians 7:20 assumes the calling of all believers, and encourages them to look at what they’ve already been given as the basis of their ministry!

It doesn’t ask the believer to look for a specific biblical model.The New Testament wasn’t even established. Scripture always advises us to be led by God and not our own ideas…by His perfect Spirit and not ourselves…

Now I’m not trying to disregard the question and task altogether, it may indeed really help some people to discern their next step. And discernment for one’s ‘next step’ is always valid, in fact it's crucial.

I am concerned however about it being used ‘religiously’ for ministry foundation, when I don’t see it in scripture and therefore of the negative affects it may have on some believers and their families.

Just hear me out…

You see, sometimes our plans seem good at the time, but rather than working out to be Kingdom building they become more self-fulfilling. And sometimes when circumstances change for believers, they’re left feeling disillusioned as their ‘vision’ was crushed. It seems their foundation was more in an idea and based on the success of their 'ministry', rather than the unchanging truth of their inherited worth and calling because of their identity in Christ. 

The ego is all too easily inflamed, and I do think having a too-specific, personal calling, when it’s not found in The New Testament, oftentimes is fuel to this fire. Honestly, just try to have a humble conversation with someone about ‘your calling’, it’s extremely difficult to do.

We sadly hear of too many leading pastors coming into shame. Sometimes we hear years later, testimonies from the victims of frustrated and abusive leaders, who were very different people behind closed doors when no-one was watching. Where was the loving, patient, discipleship raising there?

Jesus’ ministry was the one His Father gave Him.

He was faithful in His task as the Messiah, The Christ, the Saviour of the World. God who became a human being, to establish the foundation of His Kingdom, before dying and raising to eternal life. We are to continue with Him, building His Kingdom by spreading the Gospel and making disciples, as He told us prior to His ascension. This is The Task we have until He returns.

So what have you been given?

Maybe you’re young and single, just starting out in life and you need to follow Him to find this gift.

Maybe you will look and see the family and job you have.

Maybe you have a burning desire for a particular ministry that doesn’t neglect your nearest and dearest, and need to knock on some doors to see if God opens them for you.

Try to not get caught up with the question and rest assured, whatever God’s will for you is, it will fulfil His great commission to all believers. Be assured all your work is ministry, even if it is unpaid, and unsung by others. Your children will NOT be neglected!

It’s helpful for us to remember that scripture states leaders MUST have their own households in order before having the responsibility of pastorally caring for others. And this leads me to another question. How many of us actually have a relationship with future leaders where we visit them at home and therefore can truly attest to this which is necessary for Bible College acceptance? How many of us today who attend church actually meet together in our own homes outside of a meeting?

Furthermore Bible College is 3-4 years full-time and here in Australia’s often far away from one’s home church and family. With professional standards and legislated protocol, how is it even practical for teachers or clergy to know their students personally and pastorally ‘behind doors’?

My heart truly is for Kingdom building, and this means sharing the Gospel and raising disciples through His love. Oftentimes we don’t need to go looking for a 'ministry' because it’s right in front of us…if only we are humble enough to accept it, for the unglamorous, often frustrating, and difficult work it is!

How better would our church communities be if families really prioritised their own children and homes first and foremost? How 'cleaner' and 'healthier' would our churches be if we realised our own personal growth and loving others was 'Kingdom building'?

Yes, there are still many who do offer this example but my heart is for this to spread like wildfire. Families who fight, day-in day-out, for the health and faithfulness of their own family, first and foremost so they are a 'true light' to others.  Families who live and breath The Word of God, and therefore impact our world not in their own strength but by His power.

We're all called to ministry, period.

I think we would do better to examine our own actions and heart to develop a god-centered focus, more than examining scripture to developing a ministry-model. 

All of what I've said is my heart, not just for you, but for my own home too. I don't think it's really anything new that hasn't been already said by someone else...But I do hope it strengthens and encourages you. You are precious to Him, irrespective of anything.

Peace, Melanie.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

In My Burrow:

One of my recent watercolour paintings.
@mjsymesart
I haven’t written a blog post in around two months and recently I began to ponder as to why…

You see I love connecting with others via this blog but I also don’t want to just write for the sake of posting, and well, I just haven’t been inspired to write. This has been somewhat different for me, as for around five years I don’t think there’s been a month go by without a post.

But since the beginning of this year I’ve been in a season of ‘being in my burrow’.

A season of laying low, recharging, and focusing upon caring for my kits, and for this I make no apology…I’ve come to realise I’ve really needed it, and that’s okay.

After our wedding a year ago, I found I was quite run-down and by the end of last year I was really exhausted. You see, although I had been a single parent of three children for five years, technically I had really been single parenting for over a decade, as my ex-husband worked far away.

Fifteen years of parenting, caring, cooking, cleaning, disciplining, teaching, along with obtaining a degree and working in ministry full-time for two years while single takes a lot from someone…

But throughout the difficult journey of single parenting The Lord had promised me through scripture a new, permanent and beautiful home, where we could rest, and He has done just that!

Although I knew I needed rest when I resigned from chaplaincy at the end of last year to home-school the boys, it’s only now, feeling more recharged that I’m able to see more fully what The Lord was providing me. When you’re used to being quite active it can be difficult to comprehend ‘enforced rest’. Being a ‘doer’ it’s sometimes really hard to let go, rest, and relax, but sometimes circumstances and seasons force us to for our own good.

So since the beginning of this year I’ve been home schooling the boys again, and working at helping us all gel as a family, and to be completely honest, this has pretty much all I’ve been able to handle…even with the terrific help from hubby.

Blending people into a new family takes love, boundaries, patience and time. Even for myself. Simply accepting my new hubby’s loving help, although readily welcomed, actually took an adjustment, as I was so used to doing it alone and therefore struggled with some false guilt.

Over the last six months I’ve been able to recharge, safely and securely in the comfort of my own burrow. My kits have been able to feel security and comfort in a new and permanent way.

Our new home has been a sanctuary The Lord has provided us with for our wellbeing.

Praise Him.

There’s still been many challenges but we’ve been able to deal with them better as we haven’t been so ‘stretched and thin’ – If you know what I mean.

It seems so often that people today are ‘stretched and thin’ in their lives, and I’m contemplating that it’s not only the adult who suffers…the children often suffer too.

Like the mother who is so run down her breast milk is no longer sufficient for her child, so our children suffer when we run ourselves thin trying to ‘have it all’.

Why do so many of us women feel guilty today when we stay home and mother our children when they’re over the age of say ten? I think we know the answer, yet this is not intended to be a blaming blog so I won’t go there.

I just want to say I am so thankful to The Lord for the rest He’s enabled.

I am seeing the benefits and this is wonderful confirmation to combat the negative, self-doubting thoughts I’ve had, just as we all can have.

All of us here are now more settled than we’ve ever been, and our stress levels are much, much, lower, and although money has sometimes been challenging, these benefit are something money can’t buy!

In my burrow I’ve found myself away from much of what’s going on outside my door…So sometimes I’ve felt guilty. Yet the refreshment of less pressure and also less drama has been a welcomed change.

Yet there’s been plenty of times where I felt I should be doing more for others. Serving more. Giving more. Just more, more, more.

I have found in life, oftentimes, less haste, selfishness, drama and consumerism always produces a better quality of life for everyone. So I just continue to let go of the negative thoughts.

In reality we were in need, and The Lord provided. Our change in circumstances led to an ‘enforced rest’ where I’ve been able to focus solely on taking care of us and I’m beginning to really feel the benefits.

Now it’s not like I wasn’t taking care of us before…it’s just that I needed to slow right down and do only this for a season.

Sometimes in life we feel so much pressure to ‘have it all’ and we often foolishly compare our lives to others who seem to have it so. We beat ourselves up on the inside for feeling ‘less than’. We run ourselves thin and can become angry and this can result in us becoming bitter towards others, as we are so exhausted and in need.

But if only we gave ourselves permission to be deemed ‘lazy’ or ‘needy’ in the eyes of those who don’t know…maybe then both us and our families would be much better off.

More money and new activities aren’t always the right answer.

A home cooked meal is more comforting than an expensive take-away one.

A clean home is more comforting and nurturing than a constantly untidy one.

An available parent is more comforting and helpful than Kids-help-line.

A peaceful and loving wife is more god-honouring than an exhausted and stressed one.

I know some couples who seem to be a ‘power-house’ from what they post online…And honestly there have been times when I’ve compared myself and felt inadequate. I have felt my family wasn’t ‘as good’. But this is a tactic from the enemy to keep us from loving better. Busyness is a problem today…striving for worldly stuff is not the answer…loving Jesus and others (including ourselves) as He does, is.

Jesus was the most selfless, humble, unassuming person to ever live here on earth but he also practiced good self-care by often spending time alone and recharging. He went away from the crowds and prayed. He also said of Mary, compared to her busy and stressed-out sister Martha that she had chosen better.

Yet what we don’t always think about is how doing this benefits others. Jesus practiced self-care so that He was able to continuing ministering to others. Mary wasn’t the one who was ‘snappy’, it was her busy-busy sister, Martha. We need to take care of ourselves so we can be healthy for our families.

We NEED rest and worship.

Rest and worship can take different forms for different people.

Over the past six months I have been spending time in my burrow loving my kids but also painting.

Painting for me is calming and relaxing and also produces much thankfulness in my heart towards The Lord.

So this is what I’ve been doing and why I haven’t posted for a while…

Less drama, less stress, less activity, less haste…Less is more…

More peace, more love, more time, more joy…Less is more.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you for my burrow and your love for us.

Monday, 21 May 2018

You Don't Make Friends With Salad...


“You don’t make friends with salad”, a famous line turned jingle, from American cartoon, The Simpsons. A show where the star is an unhealthy guy who makes fun of his healthy-living Christian neighbours, amongst other things…


You don’t make friends with salad…

This means you don’t ‘make friends’ living a healthy life, and this is also exactly what the bible tells us is the reality for followers of Christ. Jesus Himself warned us of the persecution for bearing His Name, John 15:20-21. Scripture states one who loves the world is an enemy of God, 1 John 2:15, James 4:4.

You see it’s not just, “God so loved the world…”

God doesn’t love the world and its sin. He destroyed it once with the flood and saved only one family. God loves people for which He made the world for!

God loves people so much He wants to save them from their sin, to then transform them to become His children who will live with Him for eternity when He destroys sin once and for all with fire, and renews the world for their inheritance.

This is why Jesus died; to die the death our sins sentence us to, so that we would, like Him, rise to eternal life because we are forgiven and cleansed by His blood and redeemed by His love.

John 3:16-17 states:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.'

The world will be made new when Jesus returns and will be gifted to His faithful brothers and sisters.

Love and fire were themes present in the recent famous sermon delivered by the American Episcopal Church, Bishop Curry, at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

I recently commented on social media to some friends that although the message contained a truthful premise that ‘God is love’, it was a also a message of self-salvation when the Bishop stated that love makes us children of God, without preaching the need of repentance and spiritual rebirth…the vital role Jesus alone holds to make us children of God.

The Bishop said of Jesus, “He didn’t sacrifice his life for himself, or anything he could get out of it, He did it for others, for the other, for the good and well being of others. That’s love.” 

While Jesus’ sacrifice is an example for how we are to live, the Bishop left out the Gospel from this message…Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sin, so we can be called children of God. Jesus alone makes this possible and His resurrection proves this! Our response is not just one of loving good deeds, that is a works-based doctrine…good deeds come later when He comes to live in us. Our response needs to be one of humble repentance and faith in Him as our personal saviour, followed by commitment.

After hearing the message during Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding I was left wondering why the Gospel was not proclaimed…Why wasn’t the truth proclaimed to the world that love Himself died for our sins, so we can be saved and transformed to live lives in the freedom from sin He alone offers?

A Google search showed me that love was proclaimed in this sermon rather than repentance, salvation, and transformation, as this branch of the Church of England in the USA condones homosexuality, and ordains practicing homosexuals…

It then made sense as to why a worldly, feel-good message, about love while mentioning Jesus, without delivering the full Gospel message was delivered. If the good news Gospel message of salvation and transformation was delivered they would need to say that one must change to be a child of God and they can’t say that given their stance on homosexuality. The Bishop proclaimed a theatrical, safe message, to a world that likes Jesus but loves their sin more, John 3:19, 1 John 2:15.

Now I know there are people who will accuse me of being negative and unloving of other Christians by stating this for it's true you don’t make friends with salad…even when it’s well seasoned! But my heart breaks as I see so many Christians being led astray, so I feel I must say something!

Indeed I often refrain from writing posts here that many be considered too heavy, or interpreted as negative and critical. I try to share the Gospel as faithfully as I can, yet I don’t ever want to state the opposite of what someone will find in scripture. The world will lead you astray, the Bible (as it still is) will not.

The bible is clear, still in the New Testament, that homosexuality is a depraved sin one commits against their body which is to be a temple for God, see 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, 1 Timothy 1:8-10Romans 1:21-18. 

Yes, this is along with adultery and fornication but when we read Romans it’s clear this brokenness is further down the slope. Similar to illicit drug cocktails being even more dangerous than alcohol and cigarettes…But it seems we can’t say this today in fear of offending someone and being accused of hate speech!

Yet I challenge people who would charge me with such to spend the time I have with broken young people trying to make sense of their mental unwellness due to drugs and depraved sexual activity…and with the children of parents who live in this depravity…I challenge them to actually spend time with me and talk about case, after case, after case.

In Australia recently we were warned what a pro same-sex marriage vote would bring. The masses laughed and called us names, like intolerant, ignorant, bigoted and fear-mongers.

Well here in Victoria where I’ve resigned from being a School Chaplain, we now have the depraved mandated curriculums; Respectful Relationships and Safe School, both of which are linked to pro homosexuality and advocates of paedophilia. It’s also been announced the national chaplaincy program is no longer being funded. I can’t say I’m surprised given the small minority against Christianity in schools yelling loudly to get their own way. They don’t want Jesus in schools, and the truth is as a Christian Chaplain this is what you ARE... ‘Jesus in the school’ and if you're not, then why be a chaplain which is what some providers and school principals were already trying to do by changing the title of employees to 'well being worker' and so on.

I can’t tell you the number of students I worked with who REFUSED to talk and work with anyone but me after initial chats, but the percentage was incredibly high. While colleagues were baffled and scratched their heads as to why I was so effective with youth and their families, I knew the only difference between me and the other professionals (yes I am fully accredited) in our network, such as psychologists, social workers, youth workers, counsellors and so on was I brought Jesus into the situations, and He was with us in EVERY conversation. The people were drawn to Him, not me. 

But those who love sin don’t want Jesus in schools and I'm not just talking about state schools.

I knew under Australian law as a School Chaplain working in state schools I was not to proselytize and that was okay. But when mandated curriculum introducing students to sexual activity they most likely wouldn't learn elsewhere, along with gender fluid theories being taught as proven science was mandated, I knew I'd have to resign, as to be a team member one must be on-board, and silence can be interpreted as consent by many.

Furthermore when I was left with no option but to place my own children back in state schooling, I just couldn't knowing what I knew and due to the amount of bullying they'd faced every time they'd been in one previously. I chose to again home-school. Our schools really are getting worse and worse...and believe me it's not only Christians who are saying it!

My heart breaks also for American families. They're plagued like us with Christianity being banned in schools, bullying, and the sexual perversion of their children, but furthermore with the terrorism of mass shootings! There are also many, many Christians overseas who are being killed for their faith, and in the following countries home-schooling is illegal with parents facing criminal charges and incarceration; Sierra Leone, Greenland, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Trinidad, Tobago, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, North Korea, South Korea, Turkey, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cypress, Germany, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, San Marino, and Sweden.

I've always said my own children are my first ministry and I mean it with every ounce of my strength. When Jesus comes I want us all taken, so I will not shirk my responsibility. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for Christian families living in these countries.

This morning on Australian news we were told all public school and library books are now to undergo ‘gender testing’ and books such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh for example, are most likely no longer acceptable for our children, with their gender-based language and stereotypes.

The irony here as someone who has spent a lot of time with students in state school libraries, is I was often alarmed by the literature available containing material which worked as a contagion for student issues such as self-harm, suicidal ideation, and occult experimentation...yet they want to ban books with gender based characters! Why? To encourage gender fluidity which leads to sexual promiscuity and experimentation with those of the same gender. 

Recently on the news a woman discussed a new assertion that parents should gain permission from a toddler to change their nappy/diaper. This was met with irate criticism from many Australians saying it was absurd. Now while I believe it's absolutely important for children to learn they have autonomy over their own body, and therefore the right to say no, the truth is predators trick young children into audibly giving permission when consenting to playing a 'game' or 'keeping a secret' for sexual abuse to take place. Children need to be guided by their parents to obey them, not to give consent to whomever they in their developing mind think they should give it to. Children need to learn from loving parents discernment regarding whom to trust, and the difference between changing a nappy or being instructed how to wash their genitals, compared to sexual abuse...Furthermore that as a parent (not an equal) the child can tell them anything, and they have the power as adults to do something about it and will always believe them.

Then off-shore today in American news, there was a woman campaigning for legislation to ban words from use. In particular the word ‘man’ as she finds it offensive and believes it’s a human right simply because language evolves. She is also positive about other people petitioning for other words to be done away with…

People who love sin hate men. Have you noticed? 

They often love kids but despise people who hold traditional family values and although once they wouldn't say it to your face, only behind your back, now it's outright slander...including death threats.

Yes, people who love sin hate strong godly men with a passion...yes, they hate godly upright women too, but men have really been abused in our Western societies for years now.

They hate godly maleness that represents Jesus and The Father.

And while homosexuals may say they ‘love’ men and maleness, we know this is untrue when we look at the Mardi Gras and Drag Queen costumes which mock maleness through queerness. The sad truth is these ‘men’ so desperately need to know the godly love of The Father, yet they look for it in other human males, dressing as harlots to attract it.

While so many preach love, respect, tolerance and world peace, they absolutely want to do away traditional Christianity and free speech. They are deceived by the enemy into thinking when they get what they want they will be happy. While the truth is they will remain unsatisfied, broken, plagued with mental instability and unsaved for when Jesus returns...and the children will suffer the most...

There is no ecumenical, one-religion, love your way to Jesus gospel message…Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

Yes, love makes a way for people to come to Jesus, but this is so they will repent and change, not stay broken in their sin. We are to be His hand, feet and voice, not a Band-Aid.

Love makes a way, but this is so we can be a light in this dark world, living in holiness while we await His return. ‘For it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:16.

We are forgiven but this does not mean we are to continue living in deliberate sin. Jesus said to the woman who was to be stoned for adultery she was forgiven but also to go and sin no more, John 8:1-11.

We may still sin, but we live repentant lives, making choices each day that honour Jesus and scripture, and therefore imitate His life. 1 John 2:1-2.

Loving others does not mean we don’t speak out for truth…It does not mean we don’t bring the salad when everyone else brings meat. It does mean we will be ridiculed and persecuted...slandered and attacked...and not invited to many barbecues...

But Jesus is returning and who will we be greeting Him with? 


It is not loving to say to someone that their own loving actions will save them…that they don’t need transformation…


When the rapture happens there will be many who are left and claim it didn’t happen because they’re Christian. But all you need to do is look at the world news to see the signs it’s not far off.

Jesus said there will be many who call Him Lord but He will say He never knew them. Matthew 7:21-23.

Jesus urged us to remain alert and prayerful so we are found ready when He returns. Matthew 24:44.

God is love but the beginning of wisdom is fear and reverence for Him. Proverbs 1:7.

Don’t be fooled. Jesus saves those who repent and belong in dedication to Him. He told us there will be a separation of ‘goat and sheep’ at final judgement, meaning those who belong to Him and those who don’t. Matthew 25:31–46.


How often are we looking into the mirror of scripture compared to the neon signs of the world?


No, you don’t make friends with salad, but as faithful followers of Jesus you will eat in the banquet hall of the King and Kings, Luke 14:15-24.

If you haven’t repented of your sin and given your life to Jesus do it today and be free. He is coming. Amen, come Lord Jesus.


Sunday, 6 May 2018

LOOKING FORWARD!


I remember when I had been a Christian for a few years hearing a message that troubled me.

A woman shared a testimonial type message in which she began by sharing about the wonderful blessings and changes she had experienced as a new Christian...All that part was fine, I loved hearing about the positive, life-changing stuff similar to my own experience!

However the message then suddenly changed to a ‘warning’. The woman began to speak about her life-changing experience, that to me at that time, seemed far from positive. She spoke about a major life-changing event she had no control over that changed almost everything for her, except her faith in Jesus.

This stranger spoke about this challenge as a ‘sudden blow’ like a 'king hit' that impacted her so much she felt as if she had been knocked out and left laying on the floor! She spoke about this challenge as being the most difficult thing she'd ever experienced in her life. A challenge that God had allowed, but one He was still helping her through. This woman continued to speak about her life as both incredibly blessed, yet also marked by pain enabling her to minister to others. She then went on to ‘warn’ listeners to be ready for such an experience…of being suddenly hit by a hard blow that would change everything and leave you changed forever!

This stranger spoke about her life as one that by staying close to Jesus continued to bloom in the wilderness.

Her message hit a raw nerve with me, and while I didn’t disagree with the things she said, her ‘warning’ troubled me. I thought to myself, “But that’s your experience! It doesn’t mean it will happen to me…”

Looking back and thinking about her message now, having experienced my own wilderness and extreme life-changing challenges, I can appreciate more fully what she was trying to express...

You see, challenges do come to God’s children and we do find ourselves in the wilderness at different times during our lives. There are so many things that can happen which knock us to the floor and we have no control over...and the bible doesn’t promise an easy road, quite the opposite for bearing His Name – Jesus.

It’s hard to hear a warning when times are good.

Yet challenges do come that we have no control over.

The death of a loved one.

Abuse.

Betrayal.


Displacement.

Abandonment.

Indeed other people hurting us can have such an impact we can be left feeling insecure, disillusioned, isolated, alone, unable to trust, anxious, depressed, fragile and weak. And yes, all this can happen when we are faithful children of God!

The only solution during these times is to look forward to the promise of restoration and healing we can experience – Both in this life, and the age to come when Jesus returns.

Scripture warns us of challenges and wilderness experiences, of betrayal and hurts, yet it also assures us of God’s faithfulness and of the blessings that will come. Listen to Isaiah 51:1-3 which has been a comfort to me:

‘Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. 3 For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.’
It can be so difficult to comprehend unexpected, life-changing challenges we have no control over, when we know we’ve been trying our best to be faithful Christians. But this verse addresses such people, ‘you that purse righteousness’!

Furthermore as Christians are we are children of God and therefore descendants of Abraham through Jesus Christ. So we too are included in this section’s promise to have our wilderness environment become ‘a garden of the LORD’ and become so grateful we cannot help but sing praise!

So when we find ourselves in difficult times, when everything around us seems uncertain and unstable, let us choose to focus our minds on the unchanging character of God and upon His promises. Let us look forward in expectation of better times to come, where we too will have a testimony of His faithfulness to share with others, encouraging them to stay steadfast in their faith…For what is faith if one doesn’t have a vision of what is to come that’s better than now?

Indeed, why would we need faith in Jesus if we have everything we need here to be fully satisfied? Yes, we can impact others and our environment now while we await His return, but this current world is not meant to fully satisfy us, as Jesus’ Kingdom is yet to fully come. For as children of God we are citizens of heaven working as His ambassadors until His Kingdom is fully established, when He returns to both save His faithful followers and destroy His enemies.



Looking forward is the only way to stay positive and keep on keeping on, when the real, heart-breaking and challenging things in life happen.

Looking forward takes intentional effort from us. We must be committed to prayer and studying the bible for enlightenment.

Popular psychology can help in some ways, but ultimately it doesn’t support our faith and quest for godly understanding.

I've never appreciated the term ‘moving on’ from traumatic life events, and it seems modern psychology is now agreeing. ‘Moving on’ suggests we forget and leave hurts behind. I have always preferred ‘moving forward’ which admits our life experiences stay with us (even the negative ones like grief), but although they do stay with us, we can heal and move forward with Jesus – We are then shaped by our experiences not broken by them. Modern psychology is now agreeing with this…but expects people to look inward to move forward, rather than looking forward.

Looking inward can be helpful, yet it is limited. During wilderness times, people looking inward are left to look at their bareness.

However when we’re in the wilderness and we look forward, keeping our eyes on Jesus, we see past the bareness to ‘the garden of the LORD’ that is to come. We dream. We imagine. We see past the present, looking beyond. We have a future dream that is so much more than we could ever create for ourselves. We have a future dream based on much more than our own limited talent and resources. We have a future dream that is real.

And, when we begin to look forward, we begin to move forward…one step and day at a time.

When we begin to look forward we cultivate our wilderness with anticipation, eagerness, excitement and thankfulness, preparing our hearts for what is to come. Preparation does take time however we know the LORD desires a great harvest from our lives, so this cannot be rushed.

Again, the only solution during challenging times is to look forward to the promise of restoration and healing we can experience – Both in this life, and the age to come when Jesus returns. And to look forward we must be diligent in looking after our relationship with Jesus through prayer and studying the Bible.

If you need a bible study resource, my husband and I offer free bible study posts on our website ‘Study Scripture Today’ free of charge, as we truly desire to encourage and equip others in their faith and relationship with Jesus.

Keep looking forward, Melanie.



Saturday, 7 April 2018

In My Distress


In life no-one is immune from pain and suffering.

The anguish people can feel over death, betrayal, abandonment, bankruptcy, illness, suicide and many other major crisis can cause even long term physical and mental health problems. Yes, even the Christian…even a great man or woman of faith.

How do I know this?

I know this from personal experience, personal testimonies, and scriptural accounts.

From experiences throughout my life I do know what it is like to be distressed. To feel overwhelmed with responsibility. To feel abandoned, betrayed. To feel alone. To feel so exhausted mentally and physically that I am unable to leave the house. To have very little money in my bank account. To have a family member suicide. To see loved ones abuse both themselves and those around them. To lose sleep and cry until I feel dehydrated. To be cut-out of people’s lives. To feel trapped in the cycle of grief and loss and continually need to re-forgive both others and myself. Yes, I know. Furthermore I’ve experienced all of these things while being a faithful Christian…

I’ve also known however that I have a choice…For I retain a choice, even when I feel as though my experience is not based on any choice I initially made. I know I have a choice as to how I will respond.

I can let the pain debilitate me or I can call upon The Lord.



Jonah said it so well, “I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.’ Jonah 2:2

Sheol means the underworld of the dead.

So inside the belly of a huge ocean mammal, Jonah felt totally alone and so distressed he compared his experience to what he knew of hell.

Have you ever felt as if your life was like hell?

Sometimes I hear sermons about Jonah and sometimes I think they are too idealistic…Sometimes I think they focus more on the consequence than the experience.

We hear often about Jonah disobeying God’s instruction and trying to flee from the task he was assigned…resulting in Jonah being on a boat, a storm coming, him getting thrown overboard and swallowed by the whale and given a second chance to obey.

But what about the important lesson of the prayer he prayed while being inside the ocean mammal?

“I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.’ Jonah 2:2

The important lesson for us all to know is that even a man of God such as Jonah needed to call upon The Lord in his time of distress…I mean do you know any Christian who makes no mistakes and ALWAYS obeys God in their life?

So maybe we’re a little bit too focused upon Jonah’s mistakes…because even later he still makes mistakes. Perhaps we should be encouraged more by Jonah’s journey and The Lord’s steadfast faithfulness throughout this book. Just like Adam and Eve, perhaps we focus more upon the sin rather than The Lord’s faithfulness?

Yes, no-one is immune from pain and suffering because of the fall of man instituted by Adam and Eve, but God is greater than man and has always had a redemption plan, for He is good and faithful.

Yet we do have a choice, we always retain that. We get to choose how we will respond.

Will we be like Jonah and call upon The Lord in our distress?

When I feel incredibly weary from burdens I choose to call upon Jesus, for I know He sees all. 



I take encouragement from Isaiah 40:27-31:
‘Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.’

The Lord sees all my troubles and does not grow weary as I do. He continues to work things out for my benefit because He is faithful. He answers me when I call out in anguish to Him with rest, the ability to forgive, and a renewed energy and focus.

He does this for me, even though I don’t deserve it. He does this for me even when I’ve been in the wrong, just like Jonah. Why? He answers the prayer I’ve prayed in faith because He is faithful. My simple belief in Him, not my ‘good deeds’, is all it takes for Him to respond and for relief to come.

I know the pain and suffering I experience in life does not make me any less His daughter or any less a Christian. Needing His strength and help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of humanity. Facing persecution is not a sign of rejection from God, it is a sign of rejection from the world and therefore is a blessing. Isaiah 41:8-13 is an amazing promise from The Lord:

‘But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; 9 you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; 10 do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. 11 Yes, all who are incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. 12 You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. 13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.”

The Lord is good and faithful. As human beings made in His image we retain our free will to either seek Him or reject Him.

Faith simply means believing with assurance of what has not yet happened or what we cannot ‘see’ or totally prove.

Hebrews 11:1 states it perfectly: ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’

Great men and women of faith were not perfect and they absolutely lived their lives in the full experience of humanity with its brokenness and fragility…yet they called upon The Lord, not because they did amazing things, because they had faith in Him.’

Hebrews continues in 11:6: ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.’

So if you find yourself in distress, do not despair for that is to lose hope in God and that is a terrible place for anyone to be in as it opens the door for the enemy to plague people with terrible thoughts.

If you are in distress exercise faith by calling upon The Lord. Seek His ways and wisdom for your path and you will indeed find comfort, rest and renewed focus and energy. Remember no-one is immune. Prayer is a wonderful healing gift we have to find release and freedom from pain and shame and to soften our hearts.

Remember Jonah although he wasn’t perfect he was a servant of The Lord and called upon Him in his distress. The Lord answered because He is faithful, not because Jonah was.

If you feel overwhelmed and distressed you can always email (even anonymously) and we will pray for you. Our email is ordinaryaussiewoman@mail.com

God bless, Melanie.








Thursday, 1 March 2018

Worry & Anxiety


So many people today suffer from worry and anxiety. It can be so terrible, even incapacitating people at times. It can hinder some Christian people from living in the freedom Christ offers.

There are many factors to consider and I don’t want to say to you reading that I know your personal situation. There are discussions surrounding mental illnesses such as anxiety, that consider factors such as diet, genetics, spirituality and environmental conditions for example. However as someone who has suffered from anxiety I would like to offer a pastoral consideration that I feel I don’t hear often enough.

Searching the scriptures diligently for strength, encouragement, and answers.

During times of great stress, I've known scriptures that advise not to worry, such as ‘look at the birds’ and ‘cast your anxiety upon Jesus for He cares about you’. However during times of great stress I then have felt anxious because I have been anxious, when I know I shouldn’t be! What a horrible cycle…This has often led me to wonder, “Why?”

Even though I know during difficult times I pray more, I still wonder why. I wonder, "Why do I suffer like this when I don’t think not having anxiety would alter my relationship with Jesus?"

I’ve often consoled myself with the fact experiencing anxiety enables me to empathise and care for others who suffer with worry and anxiety too…Yet I still sometimes think, “Why?”

Something that’s really helped me is thinking about my anxiety as my internal ‘warning alarm’. Sometimes it’s triggered by slight things and other times it’s triggered by very real things. The struggle can be in discerning the difference.

I honestly believe there are many, many people who suffer with extreme anxiety because of their rejection of Jesus. I remember I was living in rebellion for a number of years before I suffered my first panic attack. My internal alarm began to sound but I had suppressed it with work, pleasures and secular psychology. I’m glad I didn’t suppress it completely with medication…not that medication isn't appropriate at times or can’t help people!

I suffered for almost a decade before I gave my whole self to Jesus for a new beginning and healing and it’s now 13 years later. My healing still continues. I know I am not like I used to be, I am so much better than how I was, but I still sometimes struggle due to challenges and life stressors.

A different part of scripture (to usual) that has really helped me regarding my internal alarm system (anxiety) is Proverbs 3:21-35. I’ve highlighted sections that spoke to me. I hope it helps you too.

Proverbs 3:21-35 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV):

The True Security:
21 My child, do not let these escape from your sight:
    keep sound wisdom and prudence,
22 and they will be life for your soul
    and adornment for your neck.
23 Then you will walk on your way securely
    and your foot will not stumble.
24 If you sit down,[a] you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden panic,
    or of the storm that strikes the wicked;
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
    and will keep your foot from being caught.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,[b]
    when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
    tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
29 Do not plan harm against your neighbor
    who lives trustingly beside you.
30 Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,
    when no harm has been done to you.
31 Do not envy the violent
    and do not choose any of their ways;
32 for the perverse are an abomination to the Lord,
    but the upright are in his confidence.
33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the abode of the righteous.
34 Toward the scorners he is scornful,
    but to the humble he shows favor.
35 The wise will inherit honor,
    but stubborn fools, disgrace.

Footnotes: Proverbs 3:24 Gk: Heb lie down, Proverbs 3:27 Heb from its owners.

Wisdom and Prudence: These two words really hit my heart, as a very real and practical solution for anxiety. For I know from life experience how much calmer I feel when I know I am honouring The Lord in my life decisions, and being a good steward with what He has granted me with rather than constantly indulging. I have found consciously exercising wisdom and caution, in decisions regarding my life is really important. But I have also found I cannot do this without consulting The Lord in prayer, and through scripture reading/study. I cannot help but think of people not sleeping at night, due to huge financial burdens that may have been best to avoid committing to. Our flesh always demands more but there is no life in our flesh. There is only life in Christ. Peace comes in living not only with Him but for Him.

I have found when I continually seek The Lord and connecting with Him through scripture my anxiety improves. Christian music also helps. It is only by connecting with Him and listening to Him through scripture that I find rest.

This section of scripture also encouraged me by reminding me to ‘love thy neighbour’ and to ‘not quarrel’, because the truth is when I don’t feel great I am sometimes easily irritated and cranky. Loving others who are not my immediate family, and suppressing the urge to argue are two great practical applications that are usually not high on my agenda when I’m anxious or feeling low – yet they take the focus off me, and help me to rise above.

The Lord blessing the home of the righteous really comforted me, as I can often become stressed and concerned for my children. Even though I may at times feel less than ‘righteous’, I know that The Lord is reminding me of His righteousness imputed to me through Christ, not from works! The Lord loves me and my family and therefore blesses my home. I find great comfort in this scriptural promise.

To conclude this section states God shows favour to the humble, and the wise will inherit honor. So again I am reminded the best way for me to combat anxiety is living in reverent submission to Jesus. I fight this battle best ‘on my knees’ which means praying, and actively engaging with Jesus through scripture. A very practical approach.

With much love, Melanie.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Stop: Make Yourself Happy!

We need to stop.

We need to stop looking to others for fulfilment and happiness.

We need to stop trying to fix and change our loved ones.

We need to stop being afraid of looking in the mirror of scripture.

We need to stop and take care of our own life.

Are you unhappy?

Chances are, if you’re reading this then you probably aren’t happy a lot of the time.

Do you find yourself wanting your loved one to ‘change’ or meet more of your needs?

Do you find yourself trying so hard to make them ‘happy’ through acts of service, you’re somewhat depressed and even resentful?

Do you find you give no time to yourself and spiritual needs because you’re ‘so busy’ giving to your loved one, or busy ‘working’ that you feel drained and exhausted…no matter how  your beautiful your pictures posted on social media are?

Most of us know the benefit of working on ourselves prior to being in a relationship…of preparing ourselves to be mentally and physically well for another person…

But I wonder why this often goes out the window when we get into a relationship???

Why do I read plenty of articles about ‘making yourself ready’ for singles and then the opposite for married people…For example, how to let your spouse know you love them…how to rekindle your love…how to reset your wife…and so on and so on…

I am actually tired of reading articles such as, “Husband, I need you to….fill in the blank” or “Wives, your husband needs more…..fill in the blank”…

In marriage people sometimes try so hard to give, and give, and give that they lose themselves. They then become bitter and lose their happiness. Marriage becomes an idol and the reality becomes life was happier and a lot easier when the person was single!

If you feel this way, the good thing is you are recognising it.
You now need to understand that another human being will never ‘make you happy’ long term, nor have they EVER been meant to fulfil you.

You need to look after your own happiness, just as you did when you were single.

Healthy happiness is both attractive and contagious to your spouse…It will encourage them to do the same for themselves...this is also called living as a healthy, mature adult.

The problem is we’re fed a lot of rubbish from Hollywood. Why? Because mature, healthy relationships do not make interesting fiction and we know what we internalise we imitate. Films are so popular as they're a form of escapism but we really do need to exercise wise discretion.

Indeed, it is nice when our spouse does loving deeds for us, and they should, but for heaven’s sake we need to stop sucking them dry…go to ‘The Source’ for real refreshment and transformation and make yourself happy!

Problems arise in every relationship. Relationships with our spouse are no different to ones with other loved ones in our lives. Problems with a spouse are more intensified however because we simply spend more time together under the same roof.
Truth Bomb (Warning): There is no way you can ‘bullet-proof’ your marriage or relationships.
Even as a Christian you will be allowed to face problems and challenges for your own benefit; so that you grow and mature. You will never be in a Christian ‘bubble’. No amount of self-sacrificial giving to another person will make you and your relationships immune.
You need balance. Time for your own recharging and happiness and time to give.
If you are with someone who demands all your attention, service and time, that is an unhealthy, and abusive relationship.
We need to stop.
We need to stop looking to others for fulfilment and happiness.
We need to stop trying to fix and change our loved ones.
We need to stop being afraid of looking in the mirror of scripture.
We need to stop and take care of our own life.
One way I decided to take responsibility for my own happiness is to write a simple ‘daily’ list of the things that are ‘core’ for my own happiness and wellbeing. The list simply is a concrete reminder of what I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy for my loved ones. My list is particular to me. It is not all I will do each day that will contribute to my own happiness and wellbeing but it is simply my essentials that I must do in order to not ‘run dry’ or ‘burn out’…or find myself looking to unhealthy options for ‘refreshment’.
This is my simple list of things that are absolutely core and essential for me personally. My non-negotiables. I encourage you to write one that is non-taxing, and personal for yourself. Remember this list is NOT ALL we will do each day that is beneficial, rather it is simply the core, non-negotibales.
My daily list:
  • Begin my day alone with Jesus, praying and reading scripture devotionally.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast and take my Amino Acids.
  • Listen to at least 1 worship song and meditate upon Jesus while listening.
  • Write a ‘to do list’ and check it off.
  • Do at least 1 beautiful thing for myself.
  • Tell my family I love them.

Your list could include a daily walk, or visit, or anything you recognise is core to making you feel happy. If you have important things that are only weekly or so on, you could schedule these activities into your diary, or write them in your planner or upon your calendar...whatever works for you as a concrete reminder. Add to your list anything that is beneficial for the continued renewing of your mind with the unchanging truths found in scripture alone. Whatever way helps you to give your empty cup to Jesus for the filling of His soul-quenching love.
We need to stop looking to others to 'make us happy' and take responsibility for our own happiness and maturity!
With my love, Melanie.