Friday, January 15, 2021
Home Authors Posts by Donna Burke

Donna Burke

Overcoming the odds and beating your ‘Goliath’

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Of the great World Cup footballing upsets, the opening group game of the 1990 World Cup Finals stays long in the memory for being one of the greatest footballing giant-slayings of all time. With only 9 men on the field – Cameroon defeated the then reigning Champions – Argentina – in a thrilling 1-0 victory that had more twists and turns than the dancing hips of Cameroon’s Roger Milla’s goal celebration. More recently, Russia achieved a similar achievement when, against all odds, they beat Spain on penalties to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup. Even though Russia at the start of the campaign were ranked only #65 in the world and Spain were regarded as one of the teams that were favourites to lift the trophy. Faced with the certainty of defeat, Cameroon and Russia showed that despite impossible odds – overcoming was possible. What is certain is that our lives reflect football at times, in the same way.

What huge test or opponent do you face right now? It might be a problem at work, with health, a big disappointment or huge odds that are loaded against you to overcome or succeed. Life is certainly full of challenges and there are few adults that don’t have an issue right now that either keeps them awake at night or focuses their minds so greatly to understand how to come out on top.

When I was a child, under the supervision of my parents, I felt safe and was protected on all sides. Problems were rare, and they were generally resolved by my parents. Such things I was usually, blissfully unaware of. However, only now as an adult and a Father can I appreciate how tough things must have been for them at times.  When problems seem enormous how do you view them and what help do you seek?

In the Bible, David overcame the great giant – Goliath – of the Philistines Army; when he took a sling and aimed a stone that struck the giant’s forehead – killing him instantly. Until then, not one of the Israelite soldiers dared to take on Goliath, as it meant certain death to attempt to. However, David (who was only a shepherd at the time) knew God and believed that the battle was all His. You see David knew that he himself was no match for the huge challenge that faced him, but he knew that God was much bigger than anything else and that He could be trusted.

Today we often refer to “slaying our own Goliath” when we overcome something that is so big it seemed dreadful at the time.  Many people report that they have beaten a serious illness or won a court case that was so unjust that victory seemed impossible. What is certain is that each person will face their own Goliath in one form or another in this life. What then? Who can we turn to when faced with a bad report from the hospital that looks hopeless or a predicament that looks set to end in failure.

Many people put their faith in doctors and quite rightly so, as they do wonderful work to help people to recover; though even doctors will freely admit that they can only work with nature to help cure a person. In other cases, people turn to alternative medicine that is often untested, and the long-term side effects are unknown. Others, however, turn to Jesus, because he is an immediate comfort in any situation. Just the act of talking to Him can lift the burden when it is too heavy for anyone else to carry.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

When we cry out to Jesus with a sincere heart, he hears us and is immediately moved by compassion to start building around us all the comfort, help and perseverance that we need to overcome our challenge.

It says in the book of Psalms, of the Bible to “Call upon Me [God] in the day of trouble and I shall rescue you”

It is only when we turn to Jesus and we put our total trust in Him that calls Him to action. When He is on our side, mountains move, and the seas part. Faith in Jesus is our part of the deal, but it is His strength and favour, that defeats the giants that we would have no hope of overcoming on our own. David knew this, he trusted God and down came the giant.

If you would like to know how you can have a relationship with Jesus and to know how He can help you when faced with life’s big challenges, please click on the link.  We would love to have that conversation with you.

Be the star player in your life

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Don’t just sit on the sidelines

Life, like any game, can look vastly different from one moment to the next, depending on where you position yourself.

There are moments when it feels as though you’re in the thick of the action. Front and centre. Involved, present and making each play happen.  On a different day, it can seem like you’re stuck, with your feet anchored to the floor and life is happening around you. Everything surrounding you is a crazy blur, but you’re not actually involved at all.

Whether we like it or not, each morning the sun will rise, and life will happen.  You can’t stop it.  The world turns each day for all of us in the same way and it’s up to us whether we choose to engage or simply sit on the sidelines and let the game continue without us.

Who’s calling the shots?

Imagine you’re the key player on your national soccer team.  It’s the biggest match of the tournament, the final, and the manager has you sitting on the bench.  You’re still a part of the team.  You’re still in the stadium.  But you have no power to influence, play or contribute to the outcome of the match.  Talk about frustrating!

Make a choice

There are times in life when we choose, or allow ourselves, to become spectators.  Instead of being the most influential figure in our story, we are sitting on the sideline watching the action unfold before us.  We allow circumstances and the actions of others to determine the direction of play, instead of making decisions and choosing the route we want our life to take.

“…for the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today.”

And whenever the answer has been, “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything: all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure… these things just fall away in the face of death… leaving only what is truly important.” – Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple Inc.

The Bible talks about the fact that a man or woman is able to choose the way their life will play out.  We have been given the ability to decide how we’re going to play this game – whether we will be on the attack, looking for an opportunity to score or play defensively reacting to the opposing team.

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” ― John C. Maxwell

Make a change

You may not like the way your life looks.  It’s possible that the circumstances you find yourself in are challenging. You may feel like you’ve been dealt a bad hand.  You might even feel like you’re sitting on the sidelines of your life watching someone else calling the shots and being the star player in your place.  But life is all about choices and you can choose how the game of your life is played.  The Bible teaches us that in order to have a flourishing, beautiful and full to the brim kind of life we need to be connected to our Creator, God.  In order to do that we need Jesus.  Jesus is the only way that we can have a relationship with God.  The Bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Knowing Him is the first step towards making great choices and determining the path our life will take.

If you would like to know how you can have a relationship with Jesus and change the way your life is played, please click on the link.  We would love to have that conversation with you.

It’s about how you play the game

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From an early age we learn, either through experience or observation, that winning feels great! You just have to watch the lead strikers, and their teammates, at the World Cup celebrating after scoring a goal.  The elation is obvious.  Winning is AMAZING! It’s hard to imagine anything that could spoil that high and so, therefore, it’s maybe understandable the lengths that some people will go to in order to be number 1!

Did anyone ever tell you:

“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”

In recent years this kind of thinking has been sneered at because let’s face it, no one really likes to lose.  But we can become so fixated on winning that we don’t realise that the way we are running means that we risk forfeiting our prize.

Going for Gold

When I was a child I remember watching the Olympic Games and seeing a sprinter by the name of Ben Johnson catapult his way to the gold in the 100 metres.  He was this powerhouse, an intimating force on the starting line and literally dominated from the moment the gunshot sounded.  No one on the field came close.  It was the perfect final.  That is until it was discovered that Johnson had taken performance-enhancing substances.  Disgraced and shamed, he was disqualified from the race, and his gold was given to another runner.

…what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? – Mark 8:36

Imagine getting to the end of your life, having finished your ‘race’, believing you’ve won the gold. Only instead you find out that the way in which you ran means that – yes people cheered for you and you stood on the podium to get the medal but – when all was said and done what you thought was your prize wasn’t actually something that you could keep.  Wouldn’t it be better to know that the way you are living your life and running your race will guarantee you a prize that can’t be taken away?

The priceless prize

You may think that the prize you want in life is money, fame or power – these things certainly look great – but where is the value in these things if you don’t have peace and fulfilment and a sense of deep joy in your life?

Jesus said in the Bible that the reason He came to live as a man was so that we, all of us, could know what life was supposed to be like, a life of abundance and better than we could even imagine.  The choice is ours.  We can seek after Jesus and by living in a relationship with Him, find peace and nourishment for our souls and the promise of eternal life with God or we can run after the shiny, fleeting treasure this world has to offer but ultimately still find that we lack the things we really desire.

If you would like to know more about how you can have a relationship with Jesus, please click on the link.  We would love to talk to you.

What does ‘winning’ really look like?

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Winning feels great! Scoring that deciding goal; being first across the line and beating everyone else in the field.  What a rush!

Picture it! The crowd is on their feet, screaming their support and willing you on in your bid to win! What can beat that?

As much as winning on the sports field is a thrill, for many of us, being victorious on the world’s stage at some great event – like the World Cup – is not our reality.  In the day to day of normal life, winning looks a little different from taking home the gold but let’s not kid ourselves, winning at the game of life can be just as sweet!!

But what does winning in life actually mean?

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.” – Jim Carrey

In 2017, Jim Carrey’s estimated worth was somewhere in the region of $150 million US dollars.  In many circles, have that many zeros at your disposal would be classed as ‘winning’ and yet, according to Jim all the fame and money he’s attained during his career are not quite as satisfying as your average person would imagine.  If he’s right, and ‘winning’ isn’t about how many cars you own, how large your house is or what’s in your bank account, what is winning in real life?

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. —Mae West

There are many things that make life ‘better’.  Great relationships matter.  Being able to care for your family and those around you matters.  Having food on the table and roof over your head matters.  Contributing to this world and hopefully leaving it a bit better than when you arrived matters! But all of these things are as easy to lose as they are to gain in the first place.  People will let you down, even when they don’t intend to.  Situations change, and hard times can affect us all.  If winning is all about what you have, whether its relationship, finances or material possession your victory in life will always be tainted by a feeling of fragility.  But imagine having something in life that’s more precious than anything else you can think of but that is yours and can never be lost or damaged or spoilt.

The Bible talks about the fact that NOTHING can take us away from God’s love.  It’s constant.  We can’t lessen it or change it in any way. It’s strong, it’s freely given and it’s unconditional.   Whether you acknowledge God or not, He loves you and has given you His love in the person of Jesus.  Jesus wasn’t just a good man or a wise teacher, His life, and death was the one thing that could restore the broken connection between the human race and their Creator.

It was once said that ‘He who has the most toys wins’, but the truth is that nothing compares with knowing that your life is valued by God and walking this journey, with Jesus by your side.  Everything else is a bonus but true winning is found in a relationship with God.

 

All about the prize

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I love the Olympics and just about every world cup tournament of any sport. It is amazing to see men and women compete. Everything they’ve been doing in preparation has been for those few seconds up to more than an hour. Strenuous work, training, injuries, stringent diets, for a few seconds. Many people think winners and losers reveal themselves when the world is watching. That’s not so.

Out Of Sight

What we see is the end product. Usain Bolt’s winning is not when he stands on podiums with gold around his neck. The soccer World Cup is not when the best teams are made. The best is made out of sight. It is the work of early mornings. Countless gym sessions and reps. Eating food they’d rather not eat. Subjecting their bodies and drawing out of themselves what others never will.

It is about individuals humbling themselves under the tutelage of coaches. Coaches often see in athletes more than they can see in themselves. The coach’s role is to bring out the greatness of those they guide. To help them realise more than they aspire and settle for. Every great athlete and team needs a coach.

These athletes receive advice from a myriad of experts and the ‘machinery’ to make them better. No, not better – to help them not only become their best but the best in the world.

All About The Gold

They do all these things because they not only want to win but believe they can. Even those who know that better athletes than them will be at the competition believe they have a shot at the gold. If we were to be honest, no one competes for the sake of it.

Even those who say, “The important thing is that you participate” would prefer to win. Let’s be honest, the ultimate winners’ medal is better than a participation badge. Winning is always best and most favourable.

Some athletes’ motivation is not to lose. It’s not the same as wanting to win. Not the same as the relentless pursuit, unwavering focus in preparation. The gold, the ultimate prize, is what gives purpose to every effort. It makes all the pain, agony and anxiety worth it.

Purpose

I know we love some sports, but no matter how much we love them, we want to see the teams we support win when the clock runs out. We don’t want their efforts in preparation and all the other painful out of sight work to go to waste.

No one wants all that effort wasted. Every athlete.

The gold, the medal that is, gives purpose to effort. It is what makes everything worth it.

Life

In some ways, this can be an analogy of life. We can have all the pain and joy to an unclear end. The ultimate goal can elude us. Like chasing the wind or grasping a smoke with our hands.

A never-ending game. Imagine a race without a finish line. A game in which either competing team never knew who won. Our lives can be like that of an athlete who runs with everything he or she is but with no finish line.

You might feel like that. Like an athlete giving everything they can, yet it’s not enough. In the end, why and how does all of this matter? What is all the effort for? Maybe you’re like the team that’s playing in order not to lose, instead of the ultimate prize. There is more to life and it is within reach.

…I came so you can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of – Jesus (John 10:10 MSG)

Jesus took on all the pain, strife that we were supposed to so that we got what we never deserved. We have the opportunity to live a life of purpose; to win at life, because He chose to lose His for us. We’d like to invite you to explore more.

 

Playing until the final whistle

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A year or so ago, there was a viral video going around on social media of kids doing a trust fall, but without giving a warning to the person who was supposed to catch them. Many hilarious results and funny videos ensued, as the person who was taken by surprise either leapt out of the way or tried desperately to catch the falling person. Personally, I am terrible at doing trust falls and even with my fiancé, I always lock my knees just before he catches me.

Control, I believe, is something everyone struggles with – not just your overbearing co-worker! There are certain parts of life that we can prepare for. We can go to university, have a pension plan, and make sure that all of our major assets are insured. But certain things in life cannot be prepared for. This month is the FIFA Soccer World Cup – which is the month where I don’t have much say over the TV remote! My dad loves soccer, and growing up in the UK (where it is rightly called football) means that soccer has always been present in some form in my life.

Whenever I think of world cups, I remember being eleven years old and watching the 2006 final match with my dad. That’s a match that most football fans know pretty well! It was France vs Italy and France’s well-loved captain’s final match. Right at the end of the match, when the score was 1 -1, Zidane turned around and head-butted Italian player Materazzi’s chest and got sent off the field. The whole stadium and millions around the world were in shock. Why would Zidane throw away his last ever match – and a world final at that? It was later discovered that Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s family.

I am sure that Zidane spent countless hours throughout his life preparing for a moment like the World Cup Final, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a childhood dream. He would’ve trained hard, worked with his team, made sacrifices, adjusted his diet, followed a strict daily routine and dedicated himself to the sport for years – but that insult and his response was something he hadn’t planned for, and as a result, one of the most important, if not the most important, match of his life was forfeit.

No matter what we try to prepare for, no matter how many plans and backup schemes we have – life will always throw us a curveball. Something we couldn’t have prevented, no matter what we did. This happened to me when my grandfather took his own life early last year. Nothing would have prepared me for the moment of hearing what had happened. It felt as if everything I had previously known and felt certain of was shaky. Where was God? Why would He allow this to happen? I didn’t get any concrete answers, but throughout the entire ordeal, and still to this day, I can feel God asking: “Miriam, do you trust me?” During that time, when my world was turned upside down, I struggled to respond. My most honest answer was “I don’t know – maybe”. But today, after the storm has passed and my heart is healing, I can say with full assurance, “Yes, Lord, I trust you.”

I trust Him because I’ve seen how even when it looks like the fight is lost, it’s not over. My family and I walked through the deepest valley we have ever faced, we had to have a long hard look in the mirror and reassess some things. We took steps forward and we took steps back. We cried, a lot, but we loved hard too. My trust in God has grown because we came out of the valley and we are okay. We made it. In those first few days, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t feel like praying.

But I did. I dug in – hard. I hung on tighter to Jesus that I ever have before, and I understood what it meant to truly make the Lord your strength. Sometimes it’s not pretty – there are a lot of tears, a lot of shouting, a lot of confusion, and ultimately, a lot of uncomfortable honesty. But allowing Jesus to keep working in my heart, even when I was angry, even when I was hurt and confused and in mourning, meant that I can now say that I am certain of the depth of His love for me and for my grandfather.

Zidane went on to become the manager of Real Madrid and became the first in the history of the European Cup to win the trophy three times in a row. He turned it back around, he took what seemed was the worst way to finish and proved everyone wrong. He finished strong. In life and not on the soccer field, I believe that the only way to turn things around and finish strong is by surrendering control, accepting that there are things we can never prepare for, and trusting Jesus with all that we are, and living like that has never let me down.

If you would like to know about how you can discover Jesus for yourself, please click on the link below. We would love to chat to you.

Playing as part of a team

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It was going to be the goal of the century.

And I was going to be the hero.

I had just dribbled past the last couple of opponents in the crucial final minutes of our five-a-side game and was about to take an epic shot at goal.

I could practically see the guys carrying me off the field on their shoulders.

The only thing between me and minor league glory was the mildly annoying opposing goalie – a lazy-ish dude from the ‘burbs who looked like he would be more at home on a couch playing Fifa 19. Hands as big as spades, though.

I lined up the shot. Spadehands stood to attention. I kicked.

It all played out as if in slow motion: The ball sailed through the air. Impressively. Spadehands, shuffling to the side a bit, reached out to the ball like a slacker trying to get to the remote. And then it happened: He managed to nick it, ever so slightly – just enough to push it out of its trajectory, just past the left post.

I had missed. Game over.

It was only after I had missed the shot that I noticed my teammate standing there, close to the goal posts to the right of the goalie – perfectly positioned to score the winning goal. It would have been a simple pass, and he would most probably have put it away spectacularly. He looked right through me with his laser eyes.

I had been so focused on scoring that I’d forgotten that I’m part of a team.

Without getting too dramatic here… I learnt something valuable that day about life. Not just about being part of a team, but about how much I needed a team around me.

Here’s the deal: None of us are in this alone. Whether it’s five-a-side football or the game of life, you’re not getting anywhere without a team. You weren’t meant to. It’s as simple as that.

Wanna be a hero? You’re gonna need a team.

Wanna get somewhere in life? You’re gonna need a team.

Wanna do something meaningful? You’re gonna need a team.

What does that team look like, though? It differs for all of us.

Some of us have awesome parents – they’re loving; maybe even involved. Do me a solid: Listen to them. Love them back. Because some people would give everything to have a loving mom and dad on their team – but they don’t. The least you can do is to appreciate yours.

Some of us also have a great team of friends around us, and that is, once again, not something you should take for granted. Make time for them; be a good friend. If you’re the sad-and-lonely type, get out there today. You’re not getting anywhere in life without some good people to look out for you.

Of course, you’ll also need mentors on your team. People who have gone before you; who are wiser than you; who care enough to be there for you. Don’t have one? Reach out to someone you trust and respect today. Chances are they’d love the opportunity to help!

Bottom line? We all need a team – even though that may look different for each of us.

But there’s one non-negotiable member on my team that should be on yours as well. You might even call him Head Coach: That someone is God.

Hear me out before you switch off: For too long, I figured that I’d make it without him. I tried my best. I gave it my all. But even when I celebrated successes along the way, the game of life felt empty. Don’t get me wrong – I scored from time to time… but it all felt purposeless.

That is until I decided to say yes to Jesus and live my life for a higher purpose – to play the game that the Head Coach had intended for me all along. It’s funny how things fall into place when you’re following the game plan…

Having Jesus on my team made a difference in ways I didn’t expect: It’s not like everything worked out right all of a sudden. But even when things did go horribly wrong, I was strangely at peace. Having the Head Coach on my team changed everything: rather than just playing the game, I knew why I was playing the game in the first place.

So yes, go build that team of yours… but make sure you fill the Head Coach position first.

Want to know more about Jesus and why you need him as Head Coach? Click on the banner below and chat to us.

 

The Game of Life

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It’s hard to comprehend, but the approaching Soccer World Cup expects to see close to one million fans descend on sporting stadiums across Russia, with a further three billion enthusiasts gathering around the globe to view the matches via satellite.

What makes this group of men kicking a small ball around a field for 90 minutes so captivating?

Watch a game or two, and you’ll quickly get it. Soccer is a glorious, hair-raising, nail-biting, adrenaline-pumping, award-winning game, just like – well, life!

The players begin their training when they are young. They are born with a certain aptitude for the game, but they have little skill and need to practice daily to improve their balance and speed. They are like small infants, learning to eat, walk and talk.

As they develop their own personal skill, they need to learn to share with others in order to play well. Keeping the ball to themselves will never win the game, so they join a club, develop friendships with their teammates, and together their individual strengths cover each other’s weaknesses. This is the beauty of community and teamwork which we as humans learn throughout our years.

As the team gets more professional, it begins to compete against opposing squads and wow! can they be tough. To be game ready, there are a few things the team needs to know well.

The Rules

Without a clear understanding of what is right and wrong, the game will be lawless, no one will score legally, and people will get hurt. Knowing where the boundaries of the field are, understanding which side to play on, and respecting the referee when he calls penalty or timeout is critical for a successful game.

When it comes to life, God has placed an intimate knowledge of what is acceptable behaviour in our soul and it outworks itself as our conscience. You’ll know it, it’s that voice that nags you when you’re doing something out-of-bounds.

As humans, we can refuse to come back onto the field God has prepared for us, or we can choose to defect and even play for the opposing team, He won’t force us to play by the rules. But we have to understand, the greatest goals are always going to be scored on the turf God has carefully designed just for us.

The Coaches Instruction

A great team needs a great coach. One who knows how to get the best out of his players, how to celebrate their wins and encourage them through their losses. One who isn’t afraid to discipline his team if they are becoming lazy, disrespectful or prideful. One who will give great thought to who needs a timeout to rest or recover, and who should sit on the bench for a game, so a teammate can enjoy the spotlight.

Just like our conscious works to define good and evil, God’s Holy Spirit is available to us as a mentor, wise counsellor, and relentless cheerleader. He’ll encourage you to push through the pain, to stand back up when you have fallen, and to go for gold even when it seems impossible.

The Competition

Some competitors can be underhanded. They’ll cheat, lie and seek to injure their opponent to secure a win. Being wise to their tactics is the only way to avoid falling victim to them.

Life is no different. We’re not playing on our home ground, that’s heaven, this time here on earth is a battlefield, where we’ll undoubtedly encounter a great crowd of critics roaring loudly, desperate to drown out the voice of our coach. These voices cause us to doubt our ability, wearing us down until we can no longer play our game well.

The Bible talks about the fact that people who follow Jesus, know His voice.  He is the ultimate coach when it comes to the game that is life.  If you want to succeed you need to know the voice of the coach, keep your eyes on Him alone, listen as he tells you to duck left and veer right. Jesus the only one with insider knowledge on how to beat the rival team, so trust Him to get you to your goal safely.

Our Position

A strong soccer team, positions players by their strengths. Some are known for their precision, others their fearless hand-eye coordination, some are strategically powerful and others built for speed. With consistent practice, each player works instinctively with the rest of the team to bring about victory.

Have you noticed how vastly different we as humans are from one another? All with diverse talents, skills, personalities and temperaments. That’s no accident, we were designed that way, so that together, combining what we can each offer, we make the perfect team.

Attitude         

Sometimes a team wins, sometimes it loses. Sometimes a player scores, other times they trip or fall. Sometimes, despite playing their absolute best, another team takes the grand final win. Sometimes there are scuffed knees and broken bones. Defeats and disappointments. The game of soccer is full of highs and lows, and I think you’ll agree, that’s what makes it exciting.

God never promised life would be easy, in fact, He said it would be hard work, with plenty of trials and temptations from opposing teams determined to trip us up. But He also encouraged us to take heart, never give up, and enjoy the precious time we have on the field, for He has already played the game before us, and through His victory, our heavenly prize is guaranteed.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses… let us strip off every weight that slows us down… And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured… then you won’t become weary and give up” – Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NLT).

This game of life is fierce, competitive and fast-paced, but with the right team, the right attitude, and the right coach, you won’t just win a flimsy trophy or worldly title, you’ll create a lifetime of adventure, storing up treasures in your eternal home that are of far greater value and significance.

Playing the game of life alone can be daunting at best, but with Jesus by your side, cheering you on, the challenges become less fearful and the disappointments and hardships are shared making them less hard to bear.  To know Jesus is to have won the game and anyone who journeys through life with Him by their side is guaranteed victory at the final whistle.

If you would like to know more about how you can know Jesus for yourself, please click on the link. We would love to tell you more.

What is peace? (and where can you find it?)

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But I want it!

Kids are amazing. They have a seemingly innate expectation that if they ask for something enough times, then they get it. If repetitive requests don’t achieve the desired outcome, the phrase “but I want it” appears to be the masterstroke that trumps all other arguments, wins the war and claims the crown.

In our house my husband and I have heard this strategy attempted many times and my much wiser other half has developed his own response. When one of our children pulls out “but I want it,” in true parental style my husband replies “yes, and you know what I want? World peace”.  I’m not saying it’s the best parenting device ever conceived or even that it would work in other circumstances but it works for us, and it certainly makes us laugh.

Imagine…

Thanks to the stereotypical beauty pageant response, the concept of world peace has become a cheesy cliché. It’s used to the point where it’s lost most, if not all, of its meaning; but think about it – what would it be like to enjoy world peace? If we’re honest the idea of global peace, without conflict or suffering, is so foreign and so ridiculously impossible in today’s climate it’s easier to joke about it than actually believe it could be a reality.

The dictionary defines peace as being, among other things:

  • a state of tranquillity or quiet.
  • a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom.
  • freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions; harmony in personal relations.

That’s a pretty tall order!

Keeping it local

Okay, so if world peace is a stretch, what about national peace?

I live in South Africa. It’s a beautiful country and by no means the most conflict affected place on the planet, but would I call it completely peaceful? No, I don’t think I can. Political, racial, and economic issues are all challenges that war against peace in the nation I call home. Even the city I live in experiences acts of violence, crime and conflict on a daily basis and I’m fairly confident that you could say similar of your nation and city, wherever in the world it happens to be.

Real or myth?

Peace, despite the fact that many of us would say we want it, is a very rare commodity. So rare in fact, at times it seems more like a fairytale than a real possibility. If that’s the case, is it possible to have any peace in a world that is in such a state of turmoil?

Many people believe that peace is the absence of war and conflict. However, peace is not so much about what is not there, but more about what is present. The author C.S. Lewis wrote:

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

According to Lewis, without God peace doesn’t exist. The Bible backs up this claim. Somewhere in the region of seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote about his coming and spoke of Jesus as being the Prince of Peace, the one who was going to be God living among us. The Bible tells us that God’s peace goes beyond anything that we can fully understand and that Jesus came to give us peace even though the world is in chaos.

Separation from God through mankind choosing its own will over God’s, caused a rip in our world; a tear that left the natural order of things confused, chaotic and at times without reason.  To fix this, God sent Jesus, His Son, to bridge the gap and show us how the world was supposed to be.  When we acknowledge that we need Jesus in order to get back to that state of how we were originally intended to be, our relationship with God is restored and things begin to make sense in a way that they never can when we keep God out of the picture.

The ability to experience peace is not related to the condition of the world but rather to the relationship you have with Jesus.

If you would like to know more about how you can know Jesus and experience the peace He has to offer, please click on the link.

Is there more to life?

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Countries like ours are full of people who have all the material comforts they desire, together with such non-material blessings as a happy family, and yet lead lives of quiet, and at times noisy, desperation, understanding nothing but the fact that there is a hole inside them and that however much food and drink they pour into it, however many motor cars and television sets they stuff it with, however many well balanced children and loyal friends they parade around the edges of it…it aches. – Bernard Levin

We often associate feelings of discontent with lack or failure, but more often than not it’s when things are at their best that this niggling question of ‘Is there more to life than this?’ seems to echo the loudest.

We’ve all been there at some point. It doesn’t matter how well your life is going or how perfect everything appears to be, you look at what you have; at what you’ve achieved and ask ‘Is that it? Is this all there is?’

If you’ve ever asked this question you’re not alone.  Throughout history people have taken a step back to look at the lives they are living and wonder if there is maybe more to their existence than the things they are experiencing.

“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”

What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.  The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.  The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles.  Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea.  Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now”

You see the problem is not necessarily with the things that you are doing. It may not be the relationships in your life or your possessions that are at fault.  The issue may well be the position they hold in your life.

We look at this Son (Jesus) and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. – 1 Colossians 1:16

God designed and created us to have Him at the centre of our lives.    Our purpose for being was to have a relationship with Him.  When we put other things at the centre and prioritise money, sex, possessions or anything else before knowing God we’re missing the point.  Nothing will ever bring a sense of completeness like knowing Jesus, accepting your need for Him in your life and being in a place of rightness with God.   

If you would like to know more about how you can real fulfilment in life or have questions about Jesus, please click on the link below.

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