Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Simplifying my life

So this year's word is 'SIMPLIFY' and so far so good! As I have been motivated to get rid of a ton of junk and pray about this journey asking God to keep me on track I am feeling fantastic! Seeing the house tidied more often does something to your soul... I am becoming less stressed when the boys take toys out to play with and less stressed when I have to rush off to work early every Tuesday.
This week I have been focussing a lot on our linen. We tend to have loads of towels, teatowels, flannrls, sheets, duvet sets etc and to be honest we don't need the amount we have. So I happened to read somewhere setting a certain amount of towels/flannels and bedding to each person in the house becomes simple.
So, I have bought 10 white towels (at $8.00 each) and 10 white flannels (at $1.60 each) 2 per person in our house. The reason for white is that if I ever need to bleach them they won't loose thier colour as many of our towels have and they look terrible! (I was almost tempted to spend an extra $2.00 per towel because they had monogrammed ones! Problem was the letter 'I' only had one left meaning it would have been wrong! He would have only got 1 towel. Lol)
I have also gone through the bedding (to be continued though) and plan to have two fitted sheets per boy (6 all up.) And two sheets sets for our main bed and one sheet set for our guest bed. The reason only fitted for the boys, I have never used two sheets on their bed. I don't see the point because they are messy sleepers! Lol
I also plan to have two duvet sets for our main bed and one each for the boys.

In the photo you can see two white containers - one has our teatowels which I have downsized to 14 (2 per day if needed) and the other container has cleaning cloths.
At the bottom is two blue containers - one for duvet sets (each one compacted into it set pillow case) and a few extra pillow cases I plan to colour coordinate (probably eventually go all white also) to each duvet set eventually having one whole set of sheets and duvet when I need to change the beds.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Family that prays together stays together.

This is written in the context of my own congregation

Have you ever heard the saying ‘A family that prays together stays together?

When Logan and I got married we had a book for people to write and two or three people wrote that quote for us.

A family that prays together – stays together.

There’s a lot of truth in that because when we pray together about certain things in our family – things happen.

There are two scripture I want to focus on today, the first is:

Acts 4: 21-37

This particular passage in Acts happened around a time of much persecution and Peter and John had previously arrested and thrown in jail for a night, they were released  the next day.
Verse 23 says:
As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said.
Now listen to this
Verse 24:
When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer….

Now imagine for a moment – surely they could have been angry about what happened – Peter and John had been arrested unfairly and trialled for something they didn’t do. Surely their reaction when Peter and john got back could have been ‘well, we need to seek revenge, eye for eye, let’s go get them – but no – they didn’t – they prayed!

And surprisingly they didn’t even pray for God to kill them or do anything to them they prayed this – and straight from the scriptures:
Verse 25:
“Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
against the Lord
    and against his anointed one.[b][c]
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

They prayed for the people who had wronged them, the prayed for God to make it right, but in a positive way.

Verse 31 then says:
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness

Do you see what happened? They prayed together as a family of believers – and something happened! God moved! They had a boldness to preach the gospel the way God wanted them to. They had a boldness to step and say ‘‘I am a follower of God and I will let nothing stand in my way”.

God not only made promises in the past and kept them but he also did something that he can do for you and me.

This takes me to my next point in 1 Thessalonians which is a similar story –
Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians who were going through hard times also and in chapter 5 he says this:

1 Thessalonians 5 from verse 11 says:
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

Paul was encouraging them that despite all the trials and suffering going on for them they were to stick together and encourage one another.
And then at the end of the passage it says:
Paul had told the family of believers encourage and build each other up just has they had been doing. So they were already doing it but he wanted to encourage them to continue that – they were already doing it right but that boost for them would have meant they were encouraged to keep moving forward rather than focussing on the other stuff going on.

So what does all this mean for us today:
 There are three things I want to highlight and encourage us all to take away with us this week:

The first point is: We become one heart and one mind.
When we become a Christian we become adopted into God’s family. We grow up with the same spirit of God and hear the same word of God. We have the same rules and the same values that He teaches us. We are still different from each other as humans but we have that same spirit.
We are one.
Point 2: - When we pray together, something happens.

Going back to Acts 4: 31 it says:
After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness

As I said: They had a boldness to preach the gospel the way God wanted them to. They had a boldness to step and say ‘‘I am a follower of God and I will let nothing stand in my way”.

When my grandma was living her last moments, Logan and I went up to be with her and my family. Now, my family are not Christian but they have supported us in everything we do, we are a family through thick and thin, we encourage one another and we work things out when things are not right, they are my family.
I had a nudge from God to go to Grandma to anoint and pray for her in her last days. I was really looking forward to having that moment with her but once I got there I was a nervous wreck. But I knew I had to do it. My sister encouraged me to go ahead and then my brother followed in that and then my Mum. So I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone and go for it.
The most amazing thing happened. My family accepted me and became one with me in that moment. When we prayed together God moved – my family experienced a sense of God in that moment. While they didn’t understand what was happening they were still moved in such a way they couldn’t deny what was happening. In that moment I felt like we were all together in one heart and one mind, but most of all, we prayed together and something happened. All of a sudden I had this real boldness that ended up guiding me throughout the week as things progressed and my Grandma passed away I became the minister to my family. And I now have the boldness to be completely open with my faith and share with them.

Something happened in that moment – for a moment we were united as one as the Holy spirit did some work in my family as we prayed together. Now I look at our relationship and our family unit is so much stronger than it ever has been. And I have this new boldness in me to not only pray for them when they aren’t there, but I am able to be so much more open with my faith.

 When we pray together – something happens.

When we pray together we encourage one another and the Holy Spirit moves to create a boldness in us that we may not have felt before.

Point 3: - Pray without ceasing

Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray without ceasing”

The word ceasing means:

to stop; discontinue:

to come to an end:

to pass away; die out.

Paul was telling the Thessalonians to NEVER STOP ceasing – so never stop or discontinue – never let it come to an end – never let it pass away or die out.

And this doesn’t mean you are to stop living life to find a place of solitary confinement just pray. Never stop ceasing to pray means that you can live your life but learn to practice the presence of God meaning as we go about our day whatever it is we are doing – pray about everything. Don’t miss opportunities to pray with others. And don’t miss opportunities to build relationship – to build family.

Today I want us to take the opportunity to pray together.

For the next 15 minutes I want us to get into small groups of three or four and pray. Pray for each other, pray for this corps and where God is taking it, pray for things happening in the nation, pray for things happening in the world.

We received a letter from Samuel’s family this week (Samuel is our sponsor child) and they have written ‘please pray for us’ so pray for them, they are just as much a part of our corps family as well.  

Pray for whatever it is on your heart – Pray together.

Ending prayer:

Lord, thank you for this time we have shared together. Thank you for the word you have spoken through me this morning. I pray that as we have prayed together you will bless each prayer that was spoken and hear each prayer on our hearts that wasn’t spoken. Interpret the prayers we feel we need to pray but just don’t know what to say.

As we live our lives this week, be with each of us and remind us to spend every moment praying and listening to you. But most importantly help us to take the opportunities to pray with and for each other.


Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Shepherd and the Sheep

This is written in the context of my own congregation.

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The picture of the shepherd and his sheep assumes a Middle Eastern understanding of shepherding and draws on Old Testaments traditions.
-          God was shepherd of Israel
-          Spiritual and political leaders of Israel were also shepherds of God’s people
-          And then in this parable Jesus presents himself as the only good shepherd.

At night, Sheep were often gathered into a sheepfold to protect them from thieves, weather and other wild animals.

A sheep fold could have been a cave, shed or a pen made with low stone walls topped by thorny branches.

Whatever the sheepfold was, there was always an opening, and the shepherd would sleep across the gateway to protect the sheep.

The sheep know their shepherds voice. The shepherd would spend a lot of time with them. They would sing, talk and play music to them. The sheep trusted their shepherd so much that if someone else tried to lead them, they wouldn’t go because they didn’t know the person’s voice.

Picture a young child for a moment, say maybe 3 or 4. You take them to a mall and they stay with you at the beginning until their little legs become tired and they start to lag behind. The adult who is with that child will either ‘say come on Junior, keep going’ and the child will continue following, or the adult might take the child’s hand and guide them. That child is feeling confident and trusts the adult because they know their voice, they know their guidance, and they feel safe.
This is kind of like the sheep, they become so engrained with the shepherds precesne and voice there is a deep trust.

The Shepherd

In the parable Jesus talks about two types of shepherd.

 The first is the Good Shepherd. A Good shepherd never drives his sheep – so he is never behind the sheep, but he leads them. He walks in front of them and they follow him because they recognise is voice and they trust him. He has put many hours into gaining their trust. He even sleeps in the gateway so that they are protected; he gives up comfort to be with his sheep – that’s dedication right there!

A shepherd would also name each of their sheep and the sheep would know it’s name, so when the shepherd called out to it, it would come. Get a stranger to call out the name and they won’t come.

The second type of Shepherd is the bad shepherd. I guess it’s self explanatory really. He would be opposite to the Good Shepherd – He wouldn’t care if one sheep went missing. He would probably do his job and go home rather than spend time with his sheep teaching them to follow his voice.

So if we bring this story into our context today – picture yourself as a sheep. It’s pretty much what we are, we follow something right?

We are the Sheep, We are called by name (Actually what does your name mean? Maybe we don’t know why our parents gave us our name but we can believe they are God given.
My name was given to me by my Mum who was adamant I was going to be a Suzanne whether I was a boy or girl because my aunty passed away a year before I was born. As I have grown up I have learned a lot about who my aunty was and I have a lot of her similarities. It’s an honour to have her name sake, but interestingly enough, when I trace my name back, it turns out it is in the bible, there was a Susanna who ministered to Christ. I like that! Names are a fascinating thing.

Our name is special – it might not seem like it if it’s a common name, but actually if we really look at it, how many of those other people with our name are just like us? None!
I remember when Malachi was born. We had chosen his name, and I always thought it was an uncommon name but when we told people his name I had a number of people say to me “What a cool name, I know two other Malachi’s too…” It kid of burst my bubble for a bit, but when I think about it – there is no other Malachi like my Malachi.

We are unique and called by God, by our name. He even has our name written on the palm of his hand! We are that special to him!

The shepherds relationship with his sheep was special.
Psalm 139 says:
You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

What a picture! Because if we are the sheep that is our shepherd!

I guess I don’t need to ask the question - Who is our Shepherd? Who is the Good Shepherd?

Jesus is our Shepherd, we follow him and he calls us by name. We know that with all our hearts but how often do we fight that?

Think of the story of the lost sheep for a moment – Obviously 99 sheep followed their shepherd but one went away from his shepherd, what happened? The man went looking for it?

Have we strayed away from the flock? Have we strayed away from the good that Jesus has for us. I know I would prefer to be in the flock with the gentle singing and talking of Jesus calling me. At least I know if I stray he will come and find me – do you agree? Do you feel that way too?

I want to bring your attention to verse 9:

If we imagine our Christian world and the things we are called to, as the sheep pens, then when he calls us to something we can trust his voice and enter the gate. We don’t have to do anything except walk through that gate and we need to follow him when it’s time to move on.

Jesus is our shepherd, we can imagine ourselves living in a fenced of area for our safety while we live out the calling he has for us at that point – for example one sheep pen might be to work a job outside of our comfort zone. Another sheep pen might be to talk in public, and another might be as simple as taking some baking to someone w might not necessarily know, hey it might even be to talk to someone who has hurt us!

What sheep pen is God leading you to this year? Maybe it’s happening now, maybe you don’t know yet – but do you trust him enough to know it will be good?
We can trust him with our entire being because he loves and cares for us. He would do anything to keep us safe.
We can go into whatever it is knowing that God is with us because of his soft gentle whisper calling us by name to something.

Jesus is also the gate. He is 100% committed to us, he laid down his entire life for us so why would we not want to follow?

Verse 10 says
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Who is the thief?
We instantly think – Satan right? And that is right but what about life in general?
Things like money, gaming, bad relationships, gossip, - anything that is not of God – is a thief. Sometimes it’s so easy to live life according to our own will, we know what God is calling us to but we don’t go, we follow our own voice rather than God’s voice. And we can often separate ourselves from rest of the flock. We need the encouragement and love from the rest of those who are in the sheep pen with us.

So, this morning let’s be reminded of a few important things here:

We are sheep, we follow someone but who is that someone? Is it Jesus, the Good shepherd or is it wandering off on our own path, not listening to the shepherd?

Jesus loves us. Just like the Good shepherd he laid down his life for each of us, he gave us a name and calls us because he wants us. He wants us to follow him, so he can protect us and loves us. He is the gate that protects us from evil. And he came to give us full life, he doesn’t want us to pick a pen that has a bad shepherd that doesn’t care for us or protect us, he doesn’t want our lives to go to the thief to be stolen, killed and destroyed, he wants to give us full life.

There are going to be times when God calls us to a sheep pen and we might not like it. There are going to be times where it feels like Jesus has walked away from the pen not protecting us or calling us – or maybe we have wandered off like the lost sheep or  maybe we feel like he isn’t calling us but in actual fact – he has left all the other sheep to look for this one. We are important enough for him to walk away from his hundreds to find the one lost sheep. – he is calling us.

We might not like the thing he wants us to do but he knows the reason for it but Do we trust him enough to be our shepherd who will look after us? Or are we going to allow the thief/bad shepherd to guide us instead?

I know which one I want to be. I know the challenge that comes with fully trusting and following him, but when I look back all the times I have trusted him and done what he has asked, my life has been filled with far more joy than the times when I have wandered off in my own direction.

We have a choice to make this year.

What’s it going to be?

Follow the Good Shepherd and have a full life of joy or is wandering off on our own opening ourselves up to be destroyed by the thief because we are protected by our shepherd?


Saturday, 27 December 2014

So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.....

I haven't written in a while, which is pretty usual for this person. This year has been complete chaos, but I am still alive and I am at peace.

In January I wrote about my 'One Word' for the year and that word was FREEDOM.

The scriptures God gave me to go with it were:

Psalm 91: 'Because He loves me' says the Lord 'I will rescue him and protect him; for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, i will deliver him and honor him.'

John 8:36: 'So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.'
, The word FREEDOM was to represent the freedom He was going to take me through this year. I was to be set free of depression, anxiety and fear. And that was it however as I reflect back on my year, the word FREEDOM has meant so much more than just that. I was expecting it to be a personal thing only but it was more than that:

It meant that my Grandma would be set free from her suffering (July she took her last breath after many many years suffering with Parkinsons/Dementia) and I got be there with her in her last moments and see Jesus take her home. It was the most humbling experience I have ever had, and now knowing she is free from all pain I am at peace. I miss her dearly and Christmas was not the same without her but we spent time with her in our own ways.

We also said goodbye to a Great-Aunty who passed away in September. She had just turned 90 and had been unwell for a short time but she was the most amazing person you could ever meet. She was not afraid to live out and speak her faith. She had no fear in that and I have so much respect and honour for her.

FREEDOM also meant that our church said goodbye to a program that has been running for 15 years, while it was hard to make the decision we fully believe God was in it and he has bigger and better things coming for us and our community.

My oldest son has had Epilepsy for 6 years now and recently we have had to get more tests done as we have been concerned. He has now been diagnosed with ADHD and we are hoping to get a referral for tests on the Autism Spectrum also. While he hasn't been set free from these thigs, the FREEDOM has been that we have an amazing supportive Doctor who has walked this journey without judgements toward us. The FREEDOM comes from now having a diagnosis to better understand him and we can put things in place for him.

In November I got my first and only tattoo.

I never ever imagined I would get a tattoo, but after my Grandma passed away my sister set the scene and it has become a family venture.

The significance behind it has more than one meaning.
Obviously the word FREE had to come from FREEDOM. If I am in Christ, I am FREE. My Grandma is FREE and I have hope that my son will be set FREE from his medical issues. The bird means FREEDOM and the purple ribbon is Epliepsy/ADHD/Alzheimers Awareness. Now every time I raise my hands in worship I see the picture in my mind of the bird flying up to FREEDOM. It will be a life long reminder of the FREEDOM I have and that I don't need to dwell on the hard storms that come my way as they have in the last couple of months of 2014. It has been hard going, but I am thankful for this reminder.

I am saying goodbye to 2014 but God working the FREEDOM in my life will be continuous. I still have so much to be set FREE from but God isn't finished with me yet!

See my nextpost for my 2015 word! :-)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Cheerful Giving

This was written for the context of my own church members. We are currently doing a series on 'Planned Giving' - I hope and pray in sharing this it may touch some hearts.

As you know when we first moved in to the Quarters (house) we had an empty vege patch, and while we weren’t avid gardeners we just couldn’t let that patch sit there with nothing in it, so off to the garden shop we went to buy loads of seeds to plant. To get all the vegetables we wanted we had to plant the seeds, and if we didn’t we weren’t going to get anything. It has been amazing watching the garden grow, because we have planted what we thought was enough but as it has all grown we have been seeing some amazing results that are beyond what we expected. We were blessed with a huge tomato crop, we were blessed with hundreds of beans, we were blessed with capsicums and much more.

The Message Version of 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says this:
A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.
8-11 God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done.

When we have planted seeds we get back what we planted and more. We are amazed by what grows in our garden and we can be amazed by the blessings God gives back when we give. And this is a promise. Because God is good and he is generous.

Let me give you a bit of context behind this particular scripture first:

From A.D. 52 to 57 a huge proportion of Paul’s time and energy was devoted to organizing a collection among his Gentile churches for the poor in Jerusalem. In Chapter 8 Paul had been boasting about how the Macedonians gave even through their most extreme trials and poverty. It was testament that even though they were small gifts, God was full of grace towards them. Paul He was amazed that even in the small gifts they gave he saw God’s grace and wanted it for his people in Corinth.
He wasn’t commanding them to give but he was encouraging them to because he saw the benefit in generous giving.
Paul used the picture of the farmer sowing seed because it’s what their lifestyle was like. The people were into farming in a big way and this picture made sense to them. The image of harvest naturally suggests the freedom of the sower to plant as much seed as he chooses similarly each person is responsible for deciding in his heart what he will give and then give it to a cause.

POINT 1: - Decide

So there are three points I want to pick up on today the first is that the people had to decide what to give.

Verse 7 says ‘Each man should give what he has decided in his heart’.
Now I guess if you read that on the surface its saying we get to decide what we want to give and give it, but if we go deeper than that I actually see it like this:
We can decide what to give, and if God is in our heart he will be in that decision also, this making our giving the idea of the God given goal that would have been talked about last week.

How do we know if what we are giving is the amount from God? The God Given Goal?

There are a few ways you can know for sure that God is speaking to your heart. First you may have niggly thoughts that line up each time about a certain topic. These niggly thoughts may come to you at the most random time, maybe even at 3 o cock in the morning when you feel like sleeping, God may be speaking to you, and maybe it’s time to listen.

Along with those niggly thoughts, you may also find that when you read your bible, scriptures will pop out to you that go with what you had been thinking and feeling or it may even say the words to the exact same words God told you. You may have people come to you and say something to you that goes along with all that as well.
I remember when we started thinking about college, there was no way it was our own thinking because I never in my life would have chosen to become an officer by myself. God was prompting us, and what started setting it in stone for us was that Logan and I would be apart all day, then when he came home we would talk about things and he would often have been thinking the same thing I had been. We had scriptures pop out that lined up, we had people say things that lined up. There was no way we could deny that God was speaking to us, and very clearly.

Another way of knowing is that you may feel an overwhelming sense of peace that doing something is absolutely God’s will.

When you have an overwhelming sense of peace it feels like whatever battle comes your way about the situation you still feel God with you. You know that whatever happens God is with you, and walking with you.

Deciding in our hearts what to give means that it will between us and God. It means that we don’t have to justify to anyone else but God as to why we are giving that amount. We also don’t need to compare with each other how much we are giving because that is between us and God in our own heart. Some of us may even do it as couple rather than singularly and that is ok too. But that is still between you and God.


Verse 7 continues on to say ‘not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

God promises to bless us when we give, but if that is our only motive then there is no point.

In the book of Mark the story of the poor widower comes to mind. This little old lady turning up to church with her last 2 cents, around her people are throwing their coins and paper money into the box because they feel like they have to. They are giving their money because they can and they are doing it so everyone can see them. It makes them feel good to be seen giving loads of money without ever really thinking about it or why they are giving it. Then steps forward this lady and gently puts her last two cents into the box.
Jesus sees her do this and says to his disciples “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.”

She put her full trust in God that He would meet all her needs for her. That is cheerful giving. She is doing it because she wants to. She didn’t have to but she did.

Which brings me to the next point FAITH.

We are living in a world today where there is extreme poverty and we even see it in our own neighbourhood. I absolutely do not believe God wants us to go into debt when we give but I do believe that when we give we will be repaid and it says so right in verse 8! God’s grace will give us everything we need.
When we give in faith, just as the widow did God’s grace falls upon us and he will bless us. (Please whatever you do, don’t think that just because God will repay it back we can give, that also is not cheerful giving, that is doing it because we want back what we gave and more – that is a selfish reason.)

There have been many times in the past when we have been low in money for whatever reason. Sometimes it is because we have had big things happen where we have had no control and sometimes it has been because of poor decisions  There have been times when we have felt to give our last $10 to someone, but you know what – EVERY SINGLE TIME we have been in a situation where it looked like we might go without food for some time until the next pay day, God has been gracious and faithful to us and has provided for us in that moment. Whether it has been someone inviting us over for dinner, or a secret squirrel posting a shopping voucher in the mail and it arriving on that exact day we have needed it.  The last time I was extremely worried and learned through God’s grace that he was never going to let us down was when we were at college. There was one week where we needed money for petrol so we could get to Woodville to preach and lead. That week our Working for Families didn’t go through. I spoke to IRD and I got off the phone and cried and asked Logan ‘what are we going to do?’ He said to me – it will work out. Isaiah had a really good friend and his mum looked after the boys for a couple of days in the holidays and when we went to pick them up on the same day, we knocked on the door and Malachi came to the door with a painting for me. He had painted me a rainbow, and instantly God said to me “It’s going to be ok” I almost cried right there. So as the peace started to surround me my worry broke away and from that moment on I have never worried about money because God will have our back. He has proven it over and over again. And I believe he can do the same for everyone.

So, I have talked a bit about deciding in your heart what to give, Paul encouraged his people to give what they decided in their heart. We can ask God to help us decide on that – that is our God Given Goal. Paul told his people to give cheerfully and not out of reluctance or under compulsion, meaning don’t because you feel like you are being pushed. Remember that God promises to bless us when we give, but if that is our only motive then there is no point. To give cheerfully is between you and God and no one else. Even if it’s the tiniest amount it’s what your heart is saying that matters. And lastly, do it in faith that God will provide your needs at all times and in all things. 

Journal Bible

I am a part of the Studio Calico Forum and a lovely lady by the name of Shanna (Shanna's Blog) posted about 'Art Journaling' in her Journal Bible. And I love the idea!!!!

At the beginning of this year I challenged myself to read my bible more and the only way I was going to be interested in doing that was having the room to write in it. Except I didn't have the room...
My wonderful hubby had bought a journal bible last year and planning on using it as his sermon bible but he never used it. So I asked him very nicely if I could please have it and he said yes. (Aren't I a blessed woman!)

I couldn't leave my cover black, it is boring, so I used some rub on and a few flower stickers to decorate it a bit, but I am not happy with it at the moment, so I am going to work on that part!

I then decided I would use my colour pens to make it look pretty when I write in it and have read a good amount.

Now that I have come across Shanna's post I am even more excited to read it and decorate it!

An example of the ESV Journal Bible. It has a great wide margin.

I journal with a lot of words and not a lot of pictures but after reading Shanna's blog post I am going to challenge myself to draw pictures a bit more. 

I can't draw very well, but I love doodle drawing and I can see that working in my bible. 

The other thing I never though of and picked up from Shanna's blog was to add tags and stickers etc. In the two pictures you can see a couple of tags. I used a couple of left over pieces of paper and added double sided tape to attach them. The light colored ones will have titles and reminders on them and the brighter ones that can't be written on will be there to make it look even more pretty but aren't necessarily the most important thing at the time. :-)

This is the inside of the front cover. The word 'FREEDOM' stands out because that is the word God gave me for 2014. Underneath are some significant scriptures that stand out to me and a few of them are from an old bible and they were significant at a time in my life and then when I read them they spoke to me again! God is good!

Underneath the attached PL Card I have added this quote - I found this in an old journal I had written while  I was at the training college to become a Salvation Army Officer. It was a difficult time for us and I watched the movie 'Facing the Giants' and one of the guys said it. 
This will continue to be significant to me because as Officers we will move a lot of places and see a lot of things and in the most hardest times I need to remember my calling and why I am doing what I do. :-)

(The bit under the flowers was a 'routine' I was hoping to get into, but I haven't stuck with it! Typical!! lol)

So, this is only the start of something that could turn out amazing! I am looking forward to looking back on this bible in the years to come!