Sunday, February 25, 2024
Home Authors Posts by Wendy Grages

Wendy Grages

Are You a Slave?

“You have to know you’re a slave to be free” is a quote I came across recently and it really challenged me. It’s basically saying that unless we acknowledge we are slaves to something, we can never be free.

That is confronting, isn’t it? Well it got me thinking….with everything that is happening in our world, I think many people are finding themselves caught upcontrolled and bound by ….FEAR. Nasty four letter word fear is but if we are honest, it haunts us all at some point in our lives. Here are a few areas you may be a slave to fear in:

  1. Fear of lack – do you ever find yourself hoarding money or food or clothes? Do you sometimes get possessive over your things? If so, you may be a slave to the fear of lack.
  2. Fear of failure – do you only attempt things you are sure you will be good at? When is the last time you tried something for the first time? If you are often asking the questions “what if it doesn’t work?” and “what if I can’t do it?”, you may be a slave to the fear of failure.
  3. Fear itself – with all the tragedy happening around the world, we can become fearful of going on holiday or visiting a place that was previously a site of violence or natural disaster. If you find yourself being nervous and anxious about things you once found normal, you may be a slave to fear itself.

I love these words found in 2 Timothy 1:7 –

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

If you feel like you are living as a slave to fear, don’t be discouraged. You are not alone! We all face these things in our lives. So what to do about it?

  • Living with an open hand will dispel the fear of lack. Look for ways to share your food, give away some money or give your gently used clothes and shoes to a shelter. As the wise Jim Elliot put it, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” 
  • Trying something new will dispel the fear of failure. Make a deal with yourself that the winning is in the trying and give it a go!
  • Drawing close to God in prayer will dispel fear. If you’re feeling anxious to go on a trip or let your child play outside, take a deep breath and trust in God’s ability to keep you safe from harm. Do what you can to ensure safety and then say a prayer and live life.

I hope this helped you today. Let’s make a decision together, that we are not going to be slaves to fear but we will live in freedom and enjoy all that God has planned for us. You with me?

To know more about a relationship with Jesus, or if you’d like someone to pray with you, please click on the pop up or link below.

Who Is the Captain of Your Soul?

I am often fascinated by old ships and how they face treacherous seas, straining to their destination. I imaging the old captain with his Gandalf-like beard, pipe in one hand and a faded map in the other. How do they navigate in the dark, how do they stay on course without the ability to see their destination?

I think life can be like this too. Do you ever feel like you are being tossed about on stormy seas, surrounded by fog and without direction? I think we have all had times like this in our lives.

So who is guiding your life? Who is the captain of your soul? Who do you turn to in uncertain times? Who do you turn to find direction and purpose?

I have tried searching for purpose and direction in many different people, places and things but I can confidently tell you that only one person has been able to adequately guide the direction of my life. His name is Jesus Christ and He is the Captain of my soul.

I love this thought: “God’s way is perfect. He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised.” Psalm 23:3

No matter where you find yourself or what you may be facing, God is the only One who can point your life in the right direction. He has promised to always be with you, every step of the way and He has promised to lead into the good things He has planned for you from long ago.

Isn’t that comforting to know? That Jesus is right there, ready to show you where to go, how to live and how to be the best you. The reason I can trust Him is that He knows where I have been and He knows where I am going.

So when you find yourself on stormy seas, tossed about in the uncertainty of life:

  1. Allow His truth to point you back north.
  2. Allow His Word to align your voyage.
  3. Allow Him to clear the fog surrounding you and show you where you ought to be going. 

The lyrics to Captain by Hillsong United have really spoken to my heart. I pray it encourages you:

Through waters uncharted my soul will embark
I’ll follow Your voice straight into the dark
And if from the course You intend
I depart
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart

Like the wind
You’ll guide
Clear the skies before me
And I’ll glide this open sea

Like the stars
Your Word
Will align my voyage
And remind me where I’ve been
And where I am going

Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north
Jesus
My Captain
My soul’s trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours

Where does your allegiance lie? Can you say that Jesus is the Captain of your life, your soul’s trusted Lord? As for me, I’d follow His voice straight into the dark.

To know Him more, click on the pop up banner or link below. We’d love to hear from you!

Is God Mad at You?

To some people reading this, this question would seem absurd. But to others, if you’re honest, it’s a question you have asked in your life.

So is He? Is God mad at you? Maybe that’s why things have gone wrong in your life. Maybe that’s why you can’t let go of your past. Maybe that’s why you can’t step into the doorway of a church.

No matter what your past has held or where you find yourself at this moment, reading this blog….please allow me to speak truth into your heart.

  1. God loves you with a fierce, unrelenting, unwavering love. It’s unlike any love you’ve ever known or can comprehend. It’s sacrificial, it’s selfless and it cannot expand or diminish no matter what we do.
  2. God delights in showing us mercy. The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning. So just in case you think you used up all of yesterday’s mercy, there’s brand new mercy for today.

The definition of mercy is this: compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.

How crazy is that!? It’s one thing to forgive or let it go because there’s not much you could do about it anyway. But God’s mercy, is compassion and forgiveness in place of punishment or harm.

The world can paint God as a mean old man, ready to strike you with lightning the minute you put a foot wrong. But that’s not how the Bible describes Him. He is patient and kind, not wanting anyone to live this life or the next without Him.

I have been so encouraged by this verse:

Isaiah 30:18, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

So you see, God isn’t mad at you. Quite the opposite! He longs to extend forgiveness and favour to you, if you will just turn to Him and accept His love. He’s waiting with arms open wide.

I pray that this blog spoke to you today. If it did and you’d like to find out more, please click on the pop-up banner or link below.

When’s the Last Time You Looked Up?

I recently went camping and was desperately trying to relax. I laid back on the grass and just looked up. I saw the beautiful blue skies and cotton wool clouds and I thought to myself, “Wow, when was the last time I just looked up?” In the hustle and bustle of life, we can get so focused on the here and now, the deadline looming, the over-flowing laundry basket, all the kids sports and activities that we can forget to take a minute and just look up.

Look up to see and remember the majesty of God.

Look up to see that what you’re obsessing about is not all there is to life.

Look up to see that the world is big and there are others around you who have needs too.

Life can get full with all its activities and demands. Do you ever feel like you are pulled in a million directions at once? Do you ever feel like pleasing your boss by staying late to work on a project means disappointing your kids who are waiting for you to come home? Do you ever feel like pleasing your family means letting down a friend who really needed to see you? Do you ever feel like pleasing someone always means disappointing another?

Well, I hope to encourage your and my heart today with this post. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OK. We can’t please everyone, we can’t do everything and we can’t be everywhere and that is OK! All we CAN do, is be ourselves and do our best. Love God and love people. Start there and everything else will fall into place. And every now and then, don’t forget to look up.

  1. Look up to see the majesty of God – He loves you, He created you and the planet you live on and He is ultimately in control. Take a deep breath and just let that sink in for a moment. You are not alone. God promises to never leave us or turn His back on us.
  2. Look up to see that what you’re obsessing about is not all there is to life – a great verse in Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” God cares about you and promises to look after you. Rest in the fact that you don’t have to do it all. Let your perspective shift as you realize how valuable you are to God.
  3. Look up to see that the world is big and there are others who have needs too – Do you know what helps when you’re feeling down? Cheer someone else up. Do you know what helps when you’re feeling discouraged? Encourage someone. Often times, giving to others the very thing we are lacking can bring joy and fulfilment in our lives.

So in the craziness of this journey of life, when it all gets a bit much, don’t forget to take a minute and just look up.

To find out more about knowing God for yourself, click on the link below or the pop up banner. We’d love to chat with you!

 

 

If You Found Yourself Before a King

What would you do if you found yourself before a king? We don’t really have kings and queens ruling countries like in the old days but think for a moment if we did….what would you do if you found yourself before a king and realized that the fate of your nation laid in your hands?

Well, this very thing happened to a young girl by the name of Esther. Her story is found in the Bible in Esther 4. She had been made a queen and a law had been passed to annihilate the Jewish people. Esther panicked and refused Mordecai’s please to ask the king to spare them. We pick up the story is verse 13, “Mordecai sent this reply to Esther: “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made a queen for just such a time as this?”

Esther faced a life-defining choice: Stay silent and her life is spared or speak up and possibly seal her fate and the fate of her people. In a remarkable act of bravery, she decides to fast and pray and leave the rest up to God. I love what she says in verse 16, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” I am so inspired by her selfless resolve. I believe she was able to go from refusing to risk her life for her people to putting her life on the line for them because she came to understand 2 things:

  1. Favour is for function, not fame – this story tells us that Esther had favour with everyone she met. She knew that it was God-given and it was for a purpose. Not so that she could be awesome, but so that she could be used by God to save a nation.
  2. When faith and purpose meet, miracles happen – God ordained her to be in that palace, it was her purpose. She stepped out in faith, willing to risk it all and God did what only He could – He miraculously saved her people.

So what about you?

What will you use your God-given favour for? Are you even believing God for opportunities to make a difference? I believe that God causes His favour to rest on our lives so that we can stand in the gap for those who have no voice.

What are you willing to do to see people in your world saved? Do you realise that God has placed people in your world that He longs to reach through you?

Whose life-change could be on the other side of your obedience? I believe it’s time for our generation to put aside our self-centeredness and realise that our lives can impact those around us. We can take a stand and reach out to those who may be lonely or broken or down-trodden.

When you believe that God wants to use you and you walk in His purpose for your life, miracles can happen through you in the lives of those around you. Are you up for the challenge?

To know more about living a life of purpose and the awesome plan God has for your life, please click on the pop-up banner or link below.

Let’s change the world, shall we?

The Secret to Raising Great Kids

Nobody starts out wilfully raising spoiled, bratty kids, so how does it happen? I was on a late night flight the other day and was really hoping to get some shut eye so that I wasn’t a complete zombie when I got home. Well that faded into a distant memory when a couple with 2 small children sat in front of me. It wasn’t long before the crying and screaming started and didn’t stop until I escaped out the airport terminal with my sanity and love for children barely intact!

I cannot tell you how often I hear this statement from people, “Wow Wendy, you have such great kids.” Now of course, I’d like to take the credit for that, nod politely and say, “Yes, yes I know.” But honestly, I don’t really know how we raised great kids, and although I am so grateful we do have great kids, I do not know enough about it to judgingly look at parents who are still figuring it out.

My husband and I sat down one day and really talked through the non-negotiables that would make up our parenting style. We received lots of suggestions from family and friends and the odd well-meaning stranger in the grocery store, but we had to work out what was best for our family. So here’s our secret for raising great kids: Love and Discipline.

  1. LOVE – we shower our kids with love and affection and we make a point of telling them how awesome they are. Now some might think that’ll give them a big head but I figured there’s enough out there in the world waiting to knock their confidence and drop them down a peg or two, so why not let home be the one place they know they are celebrated and adored.
  2. DISCIPLINE – children crave direction and boundaries. It makes them feel safe and secure to know what they can and can’t do or say. Don’t be afraid to lay down rules in your house and implement consequences for disobedience. One thing we always try to do is not discipline out of anger. I rather send my kids to my room to wait for me while I gather my thoughts and emotions and then I can address their behaviour calmly.

So what’s the secret you might ask? Everyone knows that love and discipline is needed in raising kids, so what’s the big deal? Well the secret for us is that we love our kids as much as we discipline them and we discipline them as much as we love them. Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.

We are never shy to shower our kids with love and affection and at the same time, are ready to discipline them when it’s needed. Our children have no doubt we adore them but also have no doubt that we expect them to behave and follow instructions or face the consequences for not doing so. We don’t always get the balance right but are trying our best!

Inviting God into our family and asking Him to lead and guide us has been the greatest thing we could do to have a healthy family. If you’d like to know more about this, click on the pop up or link below.

Where’s My Blessing?

If God really wants to bless us and take care of us, then why are so many people not experiencing a blessed life?

Everywhere you turn, there are books and messages encouraging us that God longs to bless us, that we can live successful and meaningful lives as followers of Christ. I don’t know about you, but I have not always found that to be the case in my life and I have seen others who follow Jesus struggle to make ends meet etc. So if what we hear is true, then the question I am asking is, “Where’s my blessing?”

A well-known verse regarding this topic is found in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And another one is Philippians 4:6-8, And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Now I certainly believe God’s Word is true so as we read these verses, my question again is, “Where’s my blessing?” Why don’t so many of us walk in the reality of these Scriptures?

Without a doubt, I know that God longs to bless us and His promises are for us all but I do think there are a couple of doors we need to unlock in order to see His promises fulfilled in our lives:

  1. Obedience is a catalyst for blessing. God longs to bless us but often there is a step of obedience we need to take in order to see that blessing become a reality. For example, God promises to pour out blessing so that we cannot contain it, IF we bring 10% of our earning to His house. He promises to bless our families and relationships IF we walk in love and forgiveness. Only you will know what that act of obedience for your life is but I encourage you to step out and allow it to be the catalyst that bring God’s blessing into your life.
  2. Receive it by faith. The Bible says to ask God for what we need but so many times, we just keep asking and begging and asking and begging and we never see our prayers answered. An awesome verse in 1 John 5:15 says that if we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us and we have what we have asked for. So that means, if you are asking God for things that are part of His will for your life, then you already have what you asked for so now you can just thank Him for it. Keep thanking Him for it until you see it in your life.

I know this is a journey so keep following after God and believe He has great things in store for you. I am praying for you that this will resonate in your heart and that you will see God’s blessing and goodness in your life!

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Why I Started Running

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I turned to my friend one day and said, “We should be fitter in our forties than we were in our teens.” Kind of a ridiculous statement, isn’t it? Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete couch potato but let’s just say that I am not a fan of the gym.

Growing up, I preferred bike riding or roller-blading to stay fit but the problem is, as I got older, the less I did these activities. Once I passed 35, I was picking up weight faster than I could lose it and I realized I needed to make a change.

So…I started running. Well to be honest, I started walking. Running to me was a form of torture. When my friend told me she was training to run the 2 Oceans Marathon, I said to her, “I could think of nothing worse than to run for 21km. I’d rather have another baby before I ran a marathon!” So walking it was! I felt good doing it and it was totally manageable and actually, kind of easy. But then I was challenged to up my game, so I walked for a few minutes and tried running for a few minutes.

I then set a goal for myself to run for 1 kilometre without stopping. Now that might not seem like a big deal to you but the last time I ran 1 kilometre without stopping was 1990! So I started with that and gradually pushed myself a little further each time. My goal before the end of the year is to do a 5 kilometre run and I think I can do it!

Since running I have lost weight, I have more energy and it really helps keep my stress levels down. So here’s what I learnt as I have begun running:

  1. Start wherever you are. It doesn’t matter how far you can run, just start somewhere and keep pushing a little further each time. You will be amazed at how quickly your body responds.
  2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, no matter how slow you are running, you are still lapping the person sitting on the couch! So give yourself a pat on the back for effort and just keep going.
  3. Make perseverance your friend. Your body can run much further than your mind tells you you can so just persevere. Keep running, keep trying, keep sweating and you’ll keep getting fitter and leaner.

Nothing in life worth having ever comes easy, so set yourself a goal and just keep hammering away at it. Stay consistent and before you know it, you’ll look back and see yourself doing things you never imagined!

Every time I run, I’m reminded of this verse in the Bible, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

There’s a race of faith you were destined to run so my prayer is that after reading this post, you would consider running to get fit and begin running your race of faith too! To find out more, please click on the link below.

What If I’ve Messed Up

Ok, you got me! I am not perfect. But then again, you’re not either, right? There are many times in all our lives where we make mistakes and do the things we know we shouldn’t – sometimes by accident, but let’s be honest, mostly on purpose. So what do you do when you’ve messed up? You know, missed the mark, stuffed up, sinned.

The tricky thing about messing up is all the guilt and condemnation that comes with it. Don’t get me wrong, conviction is a good thing; that nudge that says “You shouldn’t have done that/said that/gone there.” That nudge is conviction, shining a light on what we’ve done. But condemnation, that’s something totally different. Conviction says, “You’ve done wrong”, condemnation says “You’re wrong.” Conviction deals with the issue at hand while condemnation blames the person. Conviction spurs you on to do better while condemnation tells you you never will.

Conviction comes from God and it’s based on love for you. Condemnation comes from the enemy and it’s based on jealousy and hatred for you. Conviction is God saying, “Come on, pick yourself up, and let’s keep going.” Condemnation is the enemy saying, “What’s the use, don’t even try, you’re never going to be good enough.”

So what if you’ve messed up? What’s the next step?

  1. Admit that what you did was wrong. Be honest with God, come clean about it all.
  2. Pray and ask Him to forgive you. He is longing and waiting to hear from you and more than ready to forgive you.
  3. Draw closer to Him so that you will get stronger and better equipped to resist temptation the next time it rears its ugly head.

I love this verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Although we cannot always control how or when temptation will come, this verse shows us that God will show us a way out of it. I am praying that we will all be able to recognise the way out and take it!

God is a master restorer. Only He can take the rubble of our past, the debris of our mistakes, and make something new and beautiful from it.

Why don’t you allow Him in today, to rebuild what has been broken down in your life? His love is unending, unconditional and unrelenting towards you. I pray that you come to know Him more from today onwards.

To find out more, please click on the link below or the pop up banner. We’d love to hear from you!

Refugee Crisis – Who Is My Neighbour?

You don’t have to look far to come across news reports of the refugee crisis in the Middle East. I recently read this account on the Humans of New York Instagram  of an unnamed refugee and his companions who fled their country in search of not jobs, or a better education, or a higher quality of life, but they fled in search of LIFE.

Here’s part of his story: “The island we landed on was called Samothrace. We were so thankful to be there. We thought we’d reached safety. We began to walk toward the police station to register as refugees. We even asked a man on the side of the road to call the police for us… Suddenly two police jeeps came speeding toward us and slammed on the brakes. They acted like we were murderers and they’d been searching for us. They pointed guns at us and screamed: ‘Hands up!’ I told them: ‘Please, we just escaped the war, we are not criminals!’ They said: ‘Shut up, Malaka!’ I will never forget this word: ‘Malaka, Malaka, Malaka.’ It was all they called us. They threw us into prison. Our clothes were wet and we could not stop shivering. We could not sleep. I can still feel this cold in my bones. For three days we had no food or water. I told the police: ‘We don’t need food, but please give us water.’ I begged the commander to let us drink…. He chose to watch seven people suffer from thirst for three days while they begged him for water. We were saved when they finally they put us on a boat and sent us to a camp on the mainland…. We walked for three weeks. I ate nothing but leaves. Like an animal. We drank from dirty rivers. My legs grew so swollen that I had to take off my shoes. When we reached the border, an Albanian policeman found us and asked if we were refugees. When we told him ‘yes,’ he said that he would help us….  I did not trust this man, but I was too tired to run. When night came, he loaded us all into his car. Then he drove us to his house and let us stay there for one week. He bought us new clothes. He fed us every night. He told me: ‘Do not be ashamed. I have also lived through a war. You are now my family and this is your house too.”

This story is heart-breaking but it is one of tens of thousands. I have heard people pass comments like, “Why don’t the Arab nations take these people in” or “These refugees are radical Muslims in disguise, trying to take over the West.” Maybe you’ve heard comments too?

These stories remind me of the parable Jesus told in Luke 10:30-37 explaining what it means to love your neighbour. Well-meaning people, Godly people walked by with contempt, disgust and fear and wouldn’t help the man who had been attacked by robbers. Then finally, a Samaritan man walked by and had compassion on him and took care of him until he had recovered from the attack on his life.

Let’s not repeat the story found in Luke 10. Let’s not judge these refugees or cynically expect the very worst. Let’s reach out, help them, and take care of them. And if not physically, then let’s pray for them:

  • Pray that many “Good Samaritans” will find them and help them.
  • Pray for peace in their nations.
  • Pray that no more lives will be lost.
  • Pray for darkness and evil to be overcome with the light and love of Jesus Christ.

This world would be a better place if we truly followed the teachings of Jesus in our actions, our words and our thoughts and loved our neighbour as ourselves.

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