Sunday, September 20, 2020
Home Authors Posts by Donna Burke

Donna Burke

Start the New Year on the right foot

0

The end of the year is days away, so what better time to makes sure that the next one gets off to a great start? Whatever you did or didn’t achieve in 2019, 2020 is a brand new page just waiting to be written. Don’t wait for the year to unfold before you decide to make the most of it, get a head start and make sure you begin well! Here are a few things you can do to help you get 2020 going with a bang!!

Be grateful

Whatever 2019 brought to your door, whether good, bad or somewhere in the middle be grateful for it. It’s easy to be thankful for good times but hardship and difficult seasons can be valuable too, even if they only make you realise how much you have to be thankful for.

Be intentional

Don’t let the year take you by surprise. Have a plan and direction that you want to go in. If you fail to be intentional about what you want out of 2020 you will always find yourself on the back foot, reacting to circumstances rather than responding well. Knowing where you are heading gives you a reason to face challenges confidently.

Be positive

At the beginning of a new year you don’t really want to hear that there may be hard times ahead but the chances are that in the next 12 months there may be a few bumps in the road. Don’t allow yourself to be negative about the year before you’ve even begun. See each possible challenge as an opportunity, believe that things will come together for a positive outcome and look for the silver lining. The bible reminds us that when we love God, whatever we face will work out for our benefit according to his plans for our lives.

Be inclusive

Reach out to those around you. Embark on the new year with strong and healthy relationships. This doesn’t just apply to friends, family and work colleagues but also your relationship with God.

Be mindful

The bible tells us that it is wise to learn to number your days. This means we should be mindful that we are all given a limited amount of time on this earth. No one knows which day will be their last and therefore we should treat each day as something precious, using it for good and making it count.

A new year is a chance to begin over. It is an opportunity to make better choices and to put past mistakes behind you. The best thing you can do at the outset of 2020 is to invite Jesus to be part of your life as you navigate the year ahead.

A not so silent night

0

The hay is clean and soft, farm animals coo lullabies over the sleeping newborn and sweet halo-wearing angels join the chorus. Mary is glowing in the warm light of a gloriously bright star, well-groomed shepherds watch on quietly, and luxurious gifts are offered by wise men.

This is the perfect picture of the nativity scene. It’s the one children love to act out in school plays, the one clay ornaments are modelled on, and the one we sing of fondly when we sway along to carols.

But how much truth is there to this modern-day depiction of Jesus’ birth? Did He really arrive in such serenity, or was His family’s everyday life just as rowdy and unpredictable as what we experience today?

The Messy Truth

Reading through the Biblical gospels of Matthew and Luke, and considering the recorded history of the time, we quickly learn there was nothing pretty nor peaceful about Jesus’ birth.

Mary, a virgin of moral upbringing, discovers she is to bear the long-awaited Messiah through an encounter with the angelic being Gabriel, who contrary to the images we see today, was far from a petite fairy with wings and a harp, but a fearsome warrior who introduced himself with the words ‘do not be afraid’.

Estimated at being a mere teenager and pledged to be [but not yet] married to a man named Joseph, Mary was called to a tremendous responsibility for her age which no doubt saw her ostracised by unbelievers for conceiving a child outside of wedlock, and judged as a promiscuous woman by Joseph until he too received confirmation of the divine conception.

The political climate of the time was equally turbulent, with the long-subjugated Jewish people now under the rule of Rome, and more specifically the infamously oppressive leadership of King Herod the Great.

What happened to ‘calm and bright’?

With a government census calling all families back to their hometowns, a heavily pregnant Mary travelled mountainous terrain to reach the now crowded town of Bethlehem [likely by foot for there is no biblical mention of the beloved donkey we often see today]. With the guest house full, Mary and Joseph were forced into the area where the livestock were kept, and it is here she gave birth. We aren’t told the details of her labour, but as a parent of three children myself, I can only imagine how uncomfortable, unhygienic and overwhelming that delivery was, especially for a teenage girl.

The story continues, and we see the first visitors to greet the newborn are not kings nor queens but lowly shepherds, dirty from the field, who had been told of the Saviour’s birth.

Many many months later, threatened by word from travelling astrologers from the East (‘wise men’) that a new king of the Jews had been born in his region, Herod ordered the murder of all infant boys two years and under to ensure no future challenge to his throne. Escaping at night with Jesus, Mary and Joseph fled as refugees to Egypt where they remained until Herod’s death.

And that was only just the beginning!

A Humble King

Jesus’ story is marred by greed, corruption, displacement, poverty and hardship from His birth to death… and that’s exactly the way it was meant to be.

Jesus’ mandate was never to rule from a place of privilege nor comfort like other religious, political or royal leaders, but to dwell amongst the ordinary and rub shoulders with the poor, broken, marginalised, struggling and confused. He worked as a carpenter, contributed to the running of His household, and when He finally began His public ministry He did so on foot with fishermen and other everyday types, speaking to the masses and defending the rights of women and children.

Jesus was well accustomed to disputes, pressures, financial strain, betrayal by those He cared for and oppressive regimes. The world in which He lived was every bit as chaotic as the one we live today, and that is where the beauty of that not-so-silent night comes in.

His Gift To Us

Jesus taught many things while He was alive, yet all His teachings had a key theme – remain hopeful and at peace; love sacrificially (even when we don’t feel like it); give to those in need; forgive our enemies; and care for our family, friends and neighbours.

Looking at that list it’s natural to ask… how? How do I work a full-time job, provide for all the needs in my world, give of my time and energy to those who are unkind, and still sleep well at night?!

The answer is found in Scripture. Not at the beginning of Jesus’ humble story, but at the end of His earthly life.

“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you… I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 14:26, 16:33

Draw Aside

As the year ends and we feel the pressure of gift-giving, traditions, family reunions, unfulfilled resolutions and tight deadlines collide, choose to draw aside to a quiet place as Jesus always did when expectations of Him were overwhelming, and rest in God’s presence.

The world will never slow down, but you can. Jesus modelled simplicity in His meagre birth, while in His death He provided the assurance of a great counsellor who comforts and guides us through this loud, messy, out of control world.

Hang onto Him this Christmas and keep Him by your side throughout the year to come, for there is no better nor more faithful friend to have.

If you’d like to hear more about this Saviour King, click below and we’d love to share with you!

Why is there suffering in the world?

0

It’s certain that we can’t stop all the challenges and hurdles life throws at us. Pain and suffering are a part of what it means to be human. Some people blame God for all suffering, whilst others use the argument that because there is so much pain then there can be no God!

What’s clear is that we cause some suffering to ourselves, and to others, by our own actions. In light of this, is there anything we can do to shield ourselves from pain and could suffering have a deeper meaning?

Is God to blame, or are we?

People who don’t believe in God use the reality of suffering as a reason to claim that He doesn’t exist. For example, if there was a God – He would be able to stop suffering; since He is not willing then He must be unkind. Therefore, if he is unable and unwilling – why call him God at all? What strikes me about this is that we can’t hang-on God everything that is wrong in the world if we don’t believe he exists in the first place. To even mention a God implies that we are helpless to answer the question about suffering without him. But if God can’t stop suffering or is responsible, who is to blame?

Some people put the vast amount of suffering in the world squarely at the feet of mankind. It’s obvious that evil exists as a result of our own actions. Certainly, getting rid of our selfish instincts may end some suffering as humankind can be extremely cruel.

The Russian writer, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was imprisoned, last century in the Soviet Union for criticising the Communist leader Stalin. He was interrogated, severely beaten and sentenced to eight years of hard labour, where conditions were utterly appalling. What he witnessed, he later wrote about in a three-volume book that described the severest cruelty that man could ever inflict on others. He argued that the problem of evil is not fundamentally systems of government like Communism, Totalitarianism or Capitalism, but human! It is precisely because God gave us free will that we all have the potential to do good, or to do evil!

Why doesn’t God stop evil?

If God were to step in and stop all evil, where would He start and where would He end? He might begin with someone who offends someone else because they don’t like the way they look. Or perhaps God would halt a car driving fast near a school where children go to and from?

The Bible says that, “Above all else the heart of man is evil.” Is it reasonable to expect God to step in every time we see someone else do something that seems harmful to someone else? If He did, the cost to us would be less freedom to think for ourselves. Free will would be a thing of the past.

How can we find meaning from suffering?

From time to time we will all be faced with anything from a small personal problem to a big life event that shakes our very foundations. When these things happen – how do we cope? This is what Jesus said:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16 v 33

Suffering may come in different forms perhaps through a natural disaster, a tragic event, illness or even death. Suffering has been experienced by every human being, without exception for thousands of years. However, what if there was more to suffering? What if we could see beyond it and draw meaning from our pain? Perhaps it is through suffering that God calls us closer to himself, to get our attention. The Christian writer, CS Lewis put it like this:

“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” The Problem of Pain – C.S. Lewis

Suffering is inevitable and often caused by our own selfishness and God won’t always stop it without infringing on our free will. But we can be better prepared for it, we can build-up our resilience to suffering by trusting in God.

The bigger picture is this: We won’t ever be free from trouble in this life, but we can be confident that we have a helper, someone who cares for us and someone who will always get us through any trouble. His name is Jesus and he is just a few words away when we sincerely cry out to him because of our pain.

The secrets to a successful marriage

0

If only there was a simple 3-step-guide that could guarantee a blissful long-term union. One that noted the required number of annual flower deliveries, gift purchases, intimate evenings and romantic sunset moments. But the truth is, there is no set of rules when it comes to a fruitful marriage, just a whole heap of mutual sacrifice, appreciation and… hard work. And you know what, that’s not a bad thing!

To have and to hold

It’s generally accepted that the people and possessions we value most in life are those we have had to work hardest for. The family which has stayed together despite all odds; strong friendships which took years to develop; the education we long fought to achieve; the career which has been hard-won; the car and house we strive to pay off. We treasure them dearly, protect and favour them because we have sown much of our time, energy and ability into their achievement.

The same can be said of marriage. We hold onto it tightly, when we realise just how sacred it is.

Read the words of the most traditional wedding vows and we’ll find this to be true.

“I take you for my lawful wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

As long as we both shall live

Despite what our present-day throw-away society might model, it doesn’t say I’ll hold onto you forever as long as you are better, richer and in full health. No, right there at the altar we promise to endure the ups and downs that life will most certainly entail. The moments when we show our worst selves, the periods when finances are tight, and the times when illness prevails. Marriage is not disposable and there is no money-back guarantee. It’s the good and the not-so-good we sign up for when we whisper, ‘I do’.

Recognising this from the outset is critical to a successful marriage, because more than flowers, gifts and sexual intimacy, it is how we react to these difficult seasons that most often makes or breaks a relationship.

When we have this healthy perspective of what lies ahead, we create a solid foundation on which to build our house. But what else makes our home strong?

Communicating Your Expectations

Unspoken or unrealistic expectations cause chaos in a marriage.

When we wed, we come together with a whole set of predetermined ideals shaped by our culture, upbringing and experiences. A wife might assume her husband will regularly surprise her with treats and try his best to avoid working overtime because that is what her Dad did growing up. A husband might be sure his wife will always cook dinner and clean the home because that is what he believes a good wife does. One husband might expect his wife to stay at home to raise their children, while another might think it is more important for her to pursue her career. One member of a relationship might feel strongly about always sharing meals around the dining table, while the other prefers to eat in front of the TV.

Sure of how we feel things should be done, when our spouse fails to live up to our expectations we can easily become disappointed, frustrated or resentful.

A successful marriage avoids this by talking things out. When an issue causes division, be sure to communicate about it openly and immediately, hear each other out, weigh up all the options, and find a solution both agree is reasonable.

Prioritising Each Other

Pressures from our workplace, the demands of small children, commitments to friends and extended family, time spent pursuing personal passions, and technology devices forever screaming for attention, often means our spouse is left with the scrappy leftovers of our day.

A successful marriage knows that intentional time devoted to each other without distractions keeps love and intimacy alive, and although it will mean sacrificing something else to fit it in, it’ll be well worth it!

Love = Respect

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her” – Ephesians 5:21-22;25.

Many women call this principle from the Bible offensive and oppressive, yet when read in context, it is the perfect recipe for a successful marriage.

When men love their wives with conviction and loyalty; when they protect their family and sacrifice to provide for their needs just as Jesus did in serving others, then women will want to honour, respect and willingly submit to their husband’s leadership. And when women, full of their own potential, talents and wisdom, surrender their will and allow their husband to lead out of respect for his position as the God-ordained head of the family, the man is empowered to be all that God has created him to be, which includes being a faithful husband who appreciates his wife’s spirit-led counsel.

This biblical principle is one which demands mutual sacrifice and sees both husband and wife championing one another. 

Choosing Kindness and Forgiveness

No one is perfect, we all mess up. Often. So “be quick to listen [and] slow to speak” (James 1:19), “do not let the sun go down on an argument” (Ephesians 4:26), and “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). 

Recognising God as The Head

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

It’s been said if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for everything, and this is so true in marriage. Without a steady rock to anchor a marriage to, we can easily find ourselves chasing all sorts of things, and before we know it we are miles apart from the person we pledged to hold onto forever.

Choose to anchor yourselves to Jesus. He is unshakable, wise and if kept in the centre of a home, will ensure both parties are always travelling in the same direction no matter how hard or fast life may be.

Having FUN

What a privilege it is to share life with another. Enjoy it, laugh often, don’t take yourself too seriously, and for better or worse… keep believing in, and calling out, the best in each other!

If you want to know more about Jesus Christ – our rock, shield and ever-present help – click below and we’d love to share with you.

You don’t need forgiveness

0

“You don’t need forgiveness, I NEED FORGIVENESS”

She fell into my arms and immediately burst out crying.  Between her deep sobs, she painfully sputtered, “I am so sorry!”

That was about the only words she could get out, and then a long period of guttural cries followed.  My older sister instincts kicked in and I just held her, stroked her hair and told her over and over, “It’s okay, you are forgiven!”

Truly, I had absolutely no clue what she was asking forgiveness for, but this was my beloved younger sister who I treasured, and so I was certain that anything she had done was forgivable and already forgiven.

As we embraced I played in my mind what could possibly be wrong and drew a total blank.  My sister was the ‘nice’ one and I had no idea what she could have possibly done that would need an apology?  I was dumbfounded as I held her and slowly she stopped crying.

When she could finally contain herself, she turned to me and said a sentence that I will never forget.

“I am sorry for all the years I have held bitterness against you.”

My mind went spinning.

She was asking forgiveness for the sin in her heart, but the sin had been caused by ME.  She sinned because of how I treated her. She was asking forgiveness because I was in the wrong.  I was the one who had caused hurt and pain.

I WAS THE ONE WHO NEEDED FORGIVENESS.

Suddenly years of distance and small talk and space between us became clear.

We weren’t FINE, we were broken.  Our relationship was broken. She didn’t need forgiveness, I did.  We had years between us where I had neglected her, pushed her aside, ignored her and treated her like she didn’t matter.  As her older sister, what she needed from me was to protect her, love her, advocate for her and cheer her on.  I had done none of those things.

Our high school years together really stood out in my memory during my reflection.  Two memories highlighted our distance.  One memory I thought of was of our morning routines when I got ready in our humongous bathroom alone and she got ready alone in her bedroom… because I wouldn’t allow her to get ready with me.

I was the one in control and I pushed her out. Every.  Single.  Day.  Another memory was meeting one of her friends in the hall of school and telling them I was her sister, and they didn’t know.  She was so ashamed of our relationship that she would pretend not to be my sister.  The worst part of looking back on that memory was that I remember not caring that much that she had denied me.  Our relationship held so little value for me that I forgot about the remark minutes later.

Fast forward to that night together.  In a flash, I remembered those thousands of moments from our childhood and I realized the pain I had caused her.  My heart broke.  And here she was asking ME for forgiveness when I was the one desperately in need of forgiveness.

Luckily we were both people who loved God, and MUCH more importantly we were LOVED by God.  We knew forgiveness was possible for us both because we had been so deeply and profoundly forgiven by God.

“I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.
Review the past for me,
let us argue the matter together;
state the case for your innocence.” – Isaiah 43:25-26

In a moment when my guilt and shame could have been crushing, the grace of God swept over me.  I had deeply hurt one of the most treasured people in my life and not only did she need to forgive me, but I needed to forgive myself.

Through God’s help, I have forgiven myself, and my sister has forgiven me.  We have a beautiful relationship today where we love, respect and support one another.  And from time to time we still need to ask for forgiveness for something new, but because of the great love we have shown one another, we always know the answer.

YES.  You are forgiven.

You too are forgiven by God!  Have you forgiven yourself and walked away from the sin in your past?  We would love to talk to you more about this God who loves and forgives you.

What to do when your partner cheats?

0

There are few things more devastating to your heart, confidence and sense of security than discovering your partner has been unfaithful. An ongoing affair, once-off indiscretion, addiction to pornography, or even a friendship, that is developing a deeper level of intimacy than you would like, can feel like a betrayal.

If you find yourself in this situation, what do you do? How should you respond?

Some people bury their hurt and pretend nothing is wrong; they hope it’s a passing phase or a small lapse in judgement. Others end the relationship immediately, fight it out, or try counselling. Some agree to be friends. Others take a break with the hope of one day reconciling.

The way you choose to respond to infidelity will depend on you, your personality, temperament and life experiences. The most important thing is – you must do something.

Understanding your value as a human being, knowing you have been lovingly handcrafted and designed for a specific purpose, means you deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and honesty. When you allow a partner’s unfaithfulness to continue without consequence, your self-worth is stripped away. This can leave resentment, bitterness and a sense of rejection which is more harmful than the betrayal itself.

Understanding Why

In determining how best to respond to unfaithfulness, there is wisdom in seeking answers around ‘why’.

Is your partner experiencing an identity or mid-life crisis and searching for ways to feel more attractive or alive? Are they trying to get your attention? Has there been emotional or physical distance for an extended period and they have fallen for another who has shown them more interest? Were they unsure of the future of the relationship and in exploring if the ‘grass was greener’, found out it was not? Is having more than one partner considered acceptable in their culture?

None of these reasons makes infidelity okay. However, when we realise that unfaithfulness is often the symptom of a bigger issue, we can begin to wade through the muddy waters of reconciliation or separation.

Research tells us that many affairs begin because a person is unfilled personally. Wanting to feel needed, validated or physically desirable, they begin searching for someone to provide what they perceive is missing in their current relationship. What might begin as a fantasy can quickly become a reality, as the hormones produced during those initial stages of infatuation provide the excitement and affirmation they were seeking.

Can You Forgive?

The Bible, tells us that love is patient, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs and bears all things, but the same passage confirms love does not dishonour others, is not self-seeking and always protects.

Contrary to what we are led to believe, love is not a feeling. Love is a vow to honour, protect and sacrifice our own desires to remain faithful to the one we have promised our heart to.

Knowing what real love is meant to look like and the reason why a partner has been unfaithful, you can then ask some important questions:

Does my partner feel regret or shame?

Have they admitted their mistake?
Are they willing to ask for forgiveness?
Is there a promise to rebuild the trust which has been broken?
Are the lines of communication now open between us?

If you acknowledge that the relationship has been neglected in some way, can see a genuine repentance and both desire for reconciliation, then forgiveness is key. It won’t always be easy, but a relationship with God provides the strength to forgive the most hurtful situations.

A well-known story shows Jesus’ response to this very situation. A woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him for judgment. According to the religious law, she should have been stoned to death for her crime. Yet Jesus rescues her and demands that only those without their own sin should throw any stones. With not one accuser perfect, they all left. This powerful encounter between Jesus and the woman followed:

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” –  John 8:10-11.

When Is Enough, Enough?

While reconciliation is at the very centre of God’s heart, scriptures in both the Old and New Testament will reveal that adultery in marriage is an issue God takes very seriously. So much so, that caution against the act of adultery is included in the Ten Commandments and all four gospels.

“Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” – Hebrews 13:4.

If a partner refuses to admit their mistake, places blame and guilt with everyone else, and continues to remain unfaithful in their thoughts and actions, a separation may be inevitable. Children raised in a home where infidelity is continual, often develop a deep sense of insecurity. This can lead to a warped view of what is the acceptable way to treat others and be treated themselves. Sexually transmitted diseases can also make their way into the marriage when a partner is unfaithful.

Acts of infidelity bring about significant turmoil and consequence for all involved. If you know enough is enough, you do not have to continue to suffer.  Jesus himself said that sexual immorality within a marriage is one of the only genuine reasons for legal separation.

Lasting Damage

Whether you choose to reconcile or separate as a result of unfaithfulness, neither road is easy. So, if you are currently feeling tempted towards infidelity, stop now. Talk it out with your partner, mature friends, or a counsellor; avoid situations that can easily lead to an affair; and most importantly, dive into a relationship with Jesus Christ who will help you make decisions that inspire a purpose-filled life.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” – James 1:5.

Have more questions? Click here and we’d love to talk to you.

Who is God?

0

The question of who God is is something that people have been asking since time began.  Is it possible for us to know about God? Where do we go to find an answer to this question and when we have an answer, what impact does that have on who we are?

In order to frame who God is, we should first identify the nature of God.  According to the Bible, He is a personal, loving, moral and everlasting being who created the world. The Bible also says that we were created in God’s image, and so, shouldn’t we share His characteristics and maybe even His goals? If meaning and purpose can be found in what is true in life, then perhaps our answer of who God is, is closer than we think?

God the Creator

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”  Romans 1 v 20

Have you ever looked at a mountain range, a forest, or the ocean and thought how beautiful it was?  Why are we drawn to admire these natural things?  Research suggests that love and admiration are central to our emotional well-being.  In general, people who give and receive love, report more positive feelings in their bodies as a result.

People who live in towns and cities are told to go out into nature to improve their mental health. Have you ever heard anyone say that being next to nature brings them closer to God?  Or, one is closer to God in the garden than anywhere else on earth? I believe it’s because He designed these things especially to catch our attention, and that He created us to enjoy Him – the Creator – through his creation.

The loving God

“God has shown himself to us in the person Jesus and His rich love for us in this, that whilst we were still sinners, Christ [Jesus] died for us” Romans 5 v 8

Humans are relational beings. We tend to thrive when we know we are loved and even more so within an accepting community.  We don’t do so well when isolated from others.  If we were made in God’s image, then it follows logically that God is relational too and doesn’t distance Himself from His creation. Unlike other creatures, God made us different.  Animals function out of instinct, not needing to consider what is right or wrong.  But we have free will, we purposely interact with our environment and one another. Out of our own free will we make judgements, decisions and can choose how we live and love.

God made us to have free will, with which to choose or reject him.  He sent his son Jesus to be the fulfilment of hope, for all those He created and the embodiment of love that we so strongly recognise in ourselves and others.

Jesus as God

‘The son (Jesus) is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by his powerful word.” Hebrew 1 v 3

We are all searching for the truth to believe in.  For me, that’s Jesus. Many people think that all religions are the same, but I would argue that Christianity is different. The Bible tells us that we can’t earn our way to God, but that it was God who made it possible for us to have a close relationship with Him, by sending to us his son Jesus. Compare this to other religions who insist that you must earn your place in paradise by doing certain things, praying the right prayers and balancing your actions between what is good and bad.

God desires us to want him more than anything else. It’s only by the free gift of God’s loving kindness that we can be in a relationship with him, not by how good we are! Jesus took the punishment for our sin on himself and that is how God saves us. It’s not by what we can do, it’s by what He has done. No other faith teaches this.

Every other great religious leader received their revelation about their god in dreams or written accounts of just one man. In contrast, Jesus claims to be the one God and although he did not write one word of the Bible, we have plenty of historical written evidence and many witnesses, that tells us that Jesus lived, and did amazing miracles, to demonstrate that he was indeed God.

God made us so that we could enjoy his creation and knowing that we were helpless without him, showed how much he loved us by sending Jesus who is the very nature of God in every way. If you’d like to know more about him, we’d love to chat more with you.

Created with purpose

0

“I wish God would just send me an e-mail, with direct instructions as to what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.” This is what one of my friends said to me in matric when all of my classmates and I were worrying and dreaming about the future. Growing up, I was convinced that I was going to be an actress. After leaving high-school, I tried to apply to a few film schools overseas. Over and over again, I was disappointed. There were issues with finances and citizenship…the list felt endless.

Eventually, I gave up and started studying English and Classics at the University of Cape Town. It was disappointing and frustrating to carry a dream in my heart for so long, only to realise that it wasn’t going to happen. I got to a point where I began to feel purposeless.

Over the next three years at university, God began to work in my heart. Not necessarily giving me new dreams, but slowly revealing ones that had been lying dormant in me for years. Not only were my goals transformed, but who I was changed too. I no longer wanted the same things and what I valued in life shifted. Likewise, I began to understand that purpose and career are two different spheres. Yes, often they can overlap, but our life-purpose is a much deeper element of who we are than our career will ever be.

If you’re uncertain about what your purpose in life is, then I hope that these three things I’ve learnt along my own journey will help you!

  1. What are you good at?

God has gifted each of us with natural talents and passions and a lot of the time, we just need to look at what we’re good at to see where we’re meant to be heading! I’m an okay actress, not terrible, but not outstanding either.

However, I have always loved to write. English was my best subject at school, I’m still a voracious reader and I ended up doing a degree in Literature. Slowly but surely, I started to see what was right in front of me, the gift that God had given me that I’d been ignoring because I was chasing a pipe-dream. Whether writing ends up being my fulltime job isn’t really the point – I just know that I am called to use this gift to spread God’s love and encourage others. What are you good at? If you’re not sure, ask your friends and your family! Often they can see your gifts more clearly than you can. It can be anything – from being a fantastic parent to a great cook, or even managing finances well.

  1. Open doors

Whenever I tried to get into acting, there were mountains of obstacles in my way. Nothing was going right and I didn’t feel God’s hand of favour or of blessing over my life.

In Isaiah 22:22 (NLT) we read that:

“When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.”

I believe that we have been created by God for a specific purpose. He has designed you perfectly to accomplish something only you can do. When we try to drive in someone else’s lane or walk in their purpose, God usually shuts that door tightly! But when we begin to walk in what we were created to do, the doors start to swing open! It might not always be easy, but it will feel right and there will be a sense of peace and a hand of favour over your life.

  1. Our Ultimate purpose is Jesus

Earlier I mentioned that purpose and career aren’t that the same thing. You see, our ultimate purpose is to serve God. We were created by Him, for Him. The way in which we do this looks a little different for everyone. For some, it might be working directly for a church, for others it could be being a great mom, or like me, being a writer. Whatever it is, as long as you stick close to Jesus and trust Him, He will reveal it to you step-by-step. Our life is a faith journey because it’s through faith and trust that we grow closer to Him and our character develops.

Life is confusing, it can be chaotic and unfortunately, there isn’t a step-by-step guide on precisely what we should be doing with our lives – but there is a guide on WHO we should live for. I truly believe that if we ground ourselves in the Word of God – the Bible – talk to God daily and plant ourselves in a local church, our lives will unravel the way they are meant to – full of purpose.

Does God exist?

0

As a life-long atheist, Lillian had doubts about her beliefs after the birth of her first child. Brought up by scientific-minded parents, she’d always believed that humans were made up of randomly evolved chemicals and there was no God that was evident. However, when she looked at her baby, her worldview began to shift. She felt an unexplainable love for her child. It was from that point on that she questioned what she had long believed about molecules and emotions – being just chemical reactions bouncing around in her own body. She thought, there must be more than this.

One of the many things that challenged Lillian and challenge us today is why there is something rather than nothing? Why is there life on our planet when the rest of the universe is so hostile and inhabitable? For example. If the earth’s gravitational force were altered by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001% our sun would not exist and therefore, neither would we? Talk about precision! This is astounding because it implies that life is nothing short of a miracle, more than a scientific fact.

A watch must have had a designer, so why not humans?

There are those who believe we are here by chance and those who believe that there is a strong case for a creator God who designed us and put us here for a reason. When you look around today most people don’t have any real problem believing that a car needed an intelligent designer to make it work, or a complicated cell phone was first designed before it was made. William Paley (1743-1805), an Anglican Clergyman summed up this argument in his book – Natural Theology in 1803.

“When you look at a watch or any other complex machine, you know it must have been made by an intelligent creature”

As humans, we are complicated machines, certainly more than any wristwatch. We feel, we have senses that help us navigate the world and we have emotions. Lillian began to believe that there must be a God only when she felt an inexpressible love. She could not explain it by looking back to what she had once believed about science. That set her on a journey to find the truth.

Truth found in love

In her own words, Lillian didn’t know where to go for the truth at first. She researched Buddhism and other world religions until someone suggested that she research Christianity.

Jesus Christ was a man who lived 2000 years ago in the Middle East, that claimed to be God that created the heavens and the earth. “That’s a really easy claim to prove if it’s not true”, said Jennifer, but after reading evidence that was based on reason, she concluded that, “something explosive, something world-changing must have happened in first century Palestine.”

Jesus was born of a virgin and lived for only 33 years before He was dramatically put to death, and then rose from the grave three days later. He worked many miracles and today, even after 2000 years have passed, influences the lives of almost 2 billion people.

For years and years, Lillian knew this story but had gone head to head with what she now recognised as a creator, God, who had given her the ability to love beyond anything she could imagine.

This is a selfless love that Jesus talked about when He said:

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NLT)

Jesus illustrated this perfectly when He willingly went to the cross to die so that the sins of mankind could be repaid. In that, we could connect with the Creator God in person.

When we recognise that we are so splendidly positioned with so many improbable and life-supporting conditions here on earth, it’s difficult to believe we are here by chance. Lillian found Jesus to be the only true God. Real love was staring her in the face. She concluded, just as we can, that all of God’s wonderful works are for us so that we can love others just as God loves us.

Why Jesus?

Peter Larsen eloquently puts it.

Despite our efforts to keep him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: “a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb,” Jesus entered our world through a door marked “No Entrance” and left through a door marked “No exit.”

God never intended us to live our lives without Him. He’s given us plenty of clues that He exists. God reigns through Jesus who did about everything to prove He was God by coming down to earth and dying – not for Himself – but for us. This is the definition of love that Lillian discovered. You can experience that too, today.

If you would like to know more about God and Jesus, please click on the link.  We would love to talk to you.

Jesus: Man and God?

0

Do you believe in God? Lots of people around the world are happy to acknowledge that there is, or even might be, a God.  They may give God one name or another or think of God as more of a force or presence that they don’t fully understand but God exists. Others say there is no God.  It’s fairly black and white – you either believe in God or you don’t.

Man or God?

The question of, “Who is Jesus?” is slightly more complex.  The Bible tells us that even though there is only one God, God is three people in one: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  It goes on to say that Jesus is God’s only Son which means that Jesus while being a man was in fact, God.

What do you think?

Some people struggle with the idea that Jesus was God.  They prefer to think of Him as a good man or a great teacher, thinker or role model.  The author C.S Lewis wrote about this point of view:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis ‘Mere Christianity’

We know Jesus lived.  Historians, both Non-Christian and Christian give evidence to the fact that Jesus was a real person. So, if He was real and He wasn’t a madman or a liar, then we have to believe that He spoke the truth. Of Himself, Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father (God) except through me.”

The key

When God created humankind we were as He intended and able to have a relationship with Him because we were pure. Sadly, we chose to walk away from His plan for our lives, live how we wanted and not how He intended.  The only way back from the divide that this caused between us and our Creator is through Jesus. When Jesus came to earth as a baby and died as a man on a cross, He paid the price necessary to cancel out the debt required for us to return to our rightful place in relation to God. So, in order to know God, you need Jesus.  He’s the key: the only way of being restored to God’s original intention and a relationship with the Creator.

If you would like to know more about Jesus or have questions we can help with, please click on the link.

Connect with us

128,950FansLike
0FollowersFollow
915SubscribersSubscribe