Walk This Way

We often hear of people being in the right place at the right time. When we talk about those ‘right place, right time’, moments we’re generally thinking of something good happening for someone just because they were where they needed to be to take advantage of a particular situation or opportunity. It’s as if circumstances came together to bring about something good.

Those moments are generally viewed in the light of their benefit to us. They’re about something good happening for us and those close to us.

But what about being in the right place at the right time to do someone else good?

While it’s human nature to be looking out for circumstances that might work in our favour, I wonder if we actively seek the opportunity to bring a benefit to others. Do we seek opportunity to benefit people we don’t even know?

People of faith tend to talk about how God has blessed them. There’s an understanding that good things come from God’s hands but aren’t we meant to be God’s hands to others? Do we pay any attention to the opportunities God sends our way to do good to other people?

If we truly believe that God has provided for us in some way do we really believe that it’s only for our benefit?

The following passage from Ephesians talks about the incredible way that God not only brought good out of bad but actually turned death into life. It points out that it’s all from God rather than from our own efforts.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10

The first thing that jumps out to me is that we’re already in the right place at the right time to receive this incredible gift from God that flows to us because of his great mercy and love for us.

But there’s more.

We have been created in Christ Jesus for ‘good works’. We’ve been put together by the master craftsman to do good and the good works we’re meant to be doing have already been prepared for us to do. Our task is to ‘walk in them’.

The last verse talks about us being crafted and created for a purpose. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for a purpose. That purpose is ‘good works’. The good works don’t save us, the previous verse makes that very clear, but our ‘right place, right time, moment should lead us to create more right place, right time moments for others.

It seems to me that if we’re meant to be ‘walking in good works’ that have already been ‘prepared beforehand for us’, we should pay some attention to opportunities to do just that. The good news is that the path has already been set before us so we need to be in tune with God as we actively seek to be in the right place at the right time to bring about something good for our family, for our friends, for strangers.

I wonder how different our lives would look if instead of only praying for God to bless us and to give us the things we want in life, we prayed for God to bless others through us. Maybe we need to ask God daily to show us the good works he has prepared beforehand for us to do on this day and for him to give us all we need to walk in those good works.

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A Different Hope

What are you hoping for? What are your big hopes?

I find hope to be a very interesting idea. It’s about looking forward to good things or better times even though we don’t yet see any evidence of the object of our hope. Sometimes we can be in a dark place but hope says there’s something better on the way.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.
– Desmond Tutu

Most of the time when we talk about hope it really is a desire or wish for something to happen. That desire can be stronger at some times more than others and there can be a higher possibility of that desire being fulfilled at times, but it’s still looking ahead with a desire that may or may not come to pass.

When we say, “I hope this year is better than last year”, we’re stating a desire for something good but we have no way of knowing if that will be the case. Maybe the year will be worse.

If someone says, “I hope I won’t lose my job.” It’s possibly because they see that things are tough and their job isn’t certain. They have a desire that their job will continue but we’re not sure.

There are a lot of desires that we express in terms of hope.

“I hope the weather stays nice this afternoon.”

“I hope the economy improves soon.”

“I hope the West Coast Eagles can win the premiership this year.”

There is a different kind of hope.

The kind of hope that we find in the Bible is different. When we put our hope in God we are certain of the outcome. It’s not about wishing for something that may or may not happen. God has provided certainty through the gift of his son Jesus.

Biblical hope is not a mere desire for something good to happen. It is a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future. Biblical hope has moral certainty in it. When the word says, “Hope in God!” it does not mean, “Cross your fingers.” It means, to use the words of William Carey, ‘Expect great things from God.”
– John Piper

The Bible tells us that we are born again to a hope that is alive. The hope that we as followers of Jesus have is the hope of eternal life together with our saviour. It’s a hope that keeps us alive, supports us, motivates us and drives us forward.
 
It’s a hope that invigorates and spurs our souls to action, to patience, to perseverance to the end.
 
But there’s more to it. It’s a hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and it comes with an inheritance. This inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
– 1 Peter 1:3-9

This kind of hope doesn’t ignore our dark days or the difficulties we face, instead it looks them in the face and says that all those trials cannot compare to what is ahead of us. That’s real hope.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peter talks in the Bible about the various trials that test the genuineness of our faith. He talks about our faith being precious but says that it will be tested.
 
There’s a rejoicing that comes despite circumstances because we have this living hope. It’s more than a desire for things to be different. It’s more than hoping that better times are around the corner. It’s a confidence and an expectation that there’s something better waiting for us.
 
This kind of living hope works in us despite our surroundings, trials and circumstances.
 
The passage from Peter wraps up saying, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
 
So right in the middle of testing and trials, this living hope, grounded in Jesus Christ, his work on the cross and resurrection, lets us rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
 
This living hope bubbles up and overflows because we are certain of the outcome of our faith, the salvation of our souls.
 
This kind of Biblical hope is so different to the kind of hope the world offers.

If your hopes have been dashed again and again, can I encourage you to cling to a different kind of hope … a living hope.

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Overcoming the Darkness

Sometimes, every fibre of your being tells you that the darkness has won. The darkness has snuffed out the light and there’s no way forward; no hope for the future.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We’re just over a week into a brand new year. Over the past week or two, many people have been looking back and looking ahead. A number of people I know have been saying that 2016 was an “annus horribilis” and for some others, not just a horrible year but the worst they’ve experienced. They have high hopes for 2017 because it can’t possibly be as bad as 2016. The personal trials that we face are very real. Shattered relationships, lost loved ones, sickness, depression and more can threaten to crush and swallow us.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

When we look a little wider we see unspeakable atrocities across the world. Innocent people slaughtered, children being trafficked for the perverse desires of others, natural disasters, wars, violence and more. While anyone who has the opportunity to read this is probably living relatively comfortably, there are millions of people living in extreme poverty. Most are wondering where they might find their next meal. The numbers of those who are refugees, internally displaced, or seeking asylum is in the millions. Our world seems to be beyond help. How can there possibly be a way back from this?

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

I’ve seen some of the world’s injustices first hand over the past few years. I’ve sat in the homes of the poor and heard their heartbreaking stories. The nature of my work means that I am constantly immersed in stories of people who are powerless to change their circumstances and who are at the mercy of others who take advantage of them in the lowest possible ways. Constantly hearing such stories has brought me to tears several times. This world can be such a dark place.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The good news is, no matter how bad things get, no matter how dark it gets, the darkness will not overcome. Yes, it will feel like the darkness has won and that there is no way to turn things around, but there’s something bigger going on.

It’s helpful to remind ourselves that the darkness is no surprise to God. He hasn’t been caught off guard. He is still in charge, and He is still sovereign. Even before time began, even before the darkness began to descend, God had a plan to shatter the darkness with light … light so powerful that it can never be put out. That light is God Himself in the person of Jesus.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:1-13

As you start this year, a year that will no doubt bring a mixture of joy and disappointment, remind yourself that no matter how dark it may seem to be, you don’t have to fight the darkness alone. In those moments look for the light that shines in the darkness. It may seem faint at times but it’s there.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

This is an updated post, first published in January 2016.

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The Junk Room

mind

Do you have a ‘junk room’?

Most people have a place in their house where all the junk is stored. For some it’s a room, for some it’s the attic and for others it’s the garage or a shed. Some people have a whole house that’s full of clutter.

There are decluttering experts who tell us how to remove the clutter and TV segments and shows dedicated to decluttering.

How do you feel when you walk into a cluttered room?

A lot of people say that walking into a cluttered space makes them feel anxious. I totally get that. I need space around me and so while I’m OK to go in and out of a junk room to get what I need, I don’t want to live in there.

I wonder if we realise that our minds are becoming full of clutter. We’re facing a growing problem of cluttered minds.

Our minds are becoming the ‘junk room’ of our bodies.

It used to be that if we wanted to find out what’s happening in the world we’d sit down with a cuppa and the newspaper or watch a half hour news bulletin on telly in the evening. If we wanted to stay up to date with a breaking story we’d listen to the radio and get the details in the hourly news bulletin. These days we have 24 hour news online, on television and on radio.

We have a constant stream of information from all over the world coming at us at a hundred kilometres an hour. On top of that we know what all of our friends are doing every moment thanks to social media. Of course it’s not only our friends but millions of others we’ve never met.

Our minds have become the junk room. They’re so full of stuff that other people are throwing in there that we haven’t got time to think through the important issues in our lives. We swing from one drama to the next.

I wonder if we can do just what we do at home. We have a junk room where everything goes that doesn’t have a place but we try to keep our lounge room a bit more ordered. We only put stuff in the lounge room that’s meant to be there. Our lounge room is ‘on purpose’.

Maybe we need to make room in our busy schedules to regularly disconnect from the junk room. It’ll mean putting our phones and all the other things that keep us filling up on junk out of reach and being intentional about what goes into our minds.

Most of the time we can’t help spending time in the junk room so we need to be intentional about creating a space where we decide what we’re thinking about.

I love what the Bible has to say in Proverbs about setting our minds on the things that matter.

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

If that’s the case, we need to make time to take back control of our thought life. If our thought life is totally given over to the urgent, rather than the important, we won’t have time to see the bigger picture.

Many of us are able to quote a particular phrase from Psalm 46. “Be still and know that I am God.” The rest of the Psalm gives some more context. It talks about being still and getting to know that God is in control despite the craziness that’s happening around us. Maybe you can start decluttering your thoughts and your mind by spending some time contemplating that Psalm.

Psalm 46 (ESV)

1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

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Beautiful Survivor

ChristineUwase

Working in broadcast media for many years I had the opportunity to meet some incredible people. I met personal heroes, like Australian cyclist Cadel Evans, and various other celebrities from around the world. A lot of the people I met were inspiring but none have been as inspiring as those I have met since beginning to work for Compassion.

One of the most remarkable people I’ve had the chance to meet is Christine, a young woman I met in Rwanda in 2014. Christine faced unimaginable tragedy at the age of four when she lost her family to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

The last memory I have of my mother is watching her be shot dead before my eyes as she pleaded for both her life and mine to be spared. I was only four years old and didn’t know the implications of her dying prematurely. I wish she was still alive to see me grow into the lady I have become.

How do you come back from something like that? How do you find hope in such a dark situation?

Christine is in Western Australia for a short time to tell her story and the amazing transformation that has happened in her life. While living with an aunty she was registered with Compassion and life started to turn around.

I joined Compassion when I was five years old, just after my parents were killed. Compassion picked me alongside other children and provided us with education, meals and other basic supplies, which I was able to share with my siblings. The Compassion project became my next home and a place where I was assured of joy.

Through Compassion, I came to know Christ and my faith was strengthened. I was previously very quiet and wouldn’t smile, but the longer I attended the program and met friends to play with, the more my confidence grew. Through Compassion, I started to gain hope for life where I was hopeless.

My sponsor taught me about giving and impacting others through what I have. The fact that they helped me without even knowing who I am impressed me a lot and pushes me to do the same to others, in order to make our world a better place. My sponsors used to tell me how much they love me and how I am so special. It was the first time I was told that and now I am passionate about sharing that love with others.

God has used Compassion to make me who I am today.

MelCrothers
If you’re in Perth you can hear Christine tell her story on Sunday night, the 26th of June, at The Rocks in Cannington.

The evening will also feature one of my very favourite singer/songwriters, Mel Crothers.

Entry to the event is free but you’ll need to register. You can find out more and register by clicking this link.

I really want you to have the opportunity to be inspired by this incredible evening. Why not grab a few friends or family members and head along? You will be so glad you took the time.

You can see Christine telling some of her story in the video below.

Christine’s story is one of hope and transformation. If you can, I really hope you’ll make it a priority to hear from her while she’s in Perth.

My life is true confirmation that God has a plan for each one of us and has mysterious ways to fulfil the plan. All we need to do is let Him work in us. The way God used sponsors through Compassion to transform my life is one of those mysteries.

Christine is a truly inspiring lady. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet her.

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