Contentment, Faith, Inspiration, peace, Resilience, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Peace in a Pandemic”

Imagine running from a dangerous animal in a dark forest. You know you can’t keep the pace as your breathing intensifies. You conjure images of yourself being eaten alive and wonder if you’ll feel the pain or just become numb from the shock; maybe you’ll die instantly and won’t feel a thing? Your heart palpitates as you feel the animal gaining ground. You duck around the next corner and look up at the giant oak tree before you and wonder if there’s any way you can climb it to escape the impending doom you face.

Chances are, you haven’t actually experienced a scenario like the one I just described. Did you know that the definition of a “fear” is related to real or IMAGINED danger? Your body experiences the same physiological response if a wild animal were actually chasing you through a dark forest as it would if you were lying on your bed imagining it or dreaming about it while you sleep.

The mind is powerful. What you dwell on and think about, worry about, or dread has a physiological impact on your body. Constant agonising raises your blood pressure, makes your heart beat faster, creates tension headaches and muscle soreness. Your jaw clenches in your sleep; you can even get stomach pains and ulcers.

On the contrary, pondering the Word of God brings life. Focussing your attention on an absolute truth like the fact that God is with you and for you actually calms your nervous system down and brings comfort. Muscles relax, that pit in your stomach goes away and your heart-rate lowers. Your mind steels itself and you are clear-headed and at peace.

You are the framer of the wandering path your mind takes.

In the midst of the global pandemic, we are all faced with great uncertainty. Will baseball and netball for my kids resume? How long will Floraville Public School be closed? Will I have enough food and toilet paper if I’m quarantined? Will my online business weather this storm and stay afloat during uncertain economic times? Can I continue with my plans for family holidays overseas? How will the church continue to reach people in our community if we can’t gather in person?

You have your own list, I am sure.

You have a choice to make: allow fear to consume you and suffer the physical consequences. (Which, can I remind you, will not change the situation.) Or, you can stand firm on God’s faithful promise that his plans for you are good and that he can take anything tragic in your life and mould it in the palm of his mighty hand, forming something beautiful to be used in the future.

It’s time to rise up. Look beyond your fear and your own needs and lend a hand to a neighbour. Feed your children the divine taste of goodness while the world seeks to sour their palate. Use this time of social distancing with friends to lessen the space between you and Jesus. That crazy schedule is turned upside down so while it’s lying flat and empty, lay yourself down too. Fill your time with self care and rest.

Re-think your expenditures and make a budget you can live within, allowing more savings so you aren’t under so much financial pressure when “normal life” resumes.

God will take care of you. Sometimes, you just have to look up and ask him to show you what you actually need. His answer is simple and his supply is endless.

David’s poetic praise to God
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.

Psalm 23:1-4 (TPT)
Fasting, government, peace, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 18: “Across the Earth”

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, 

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.

Isaiah 9:6

Jesus was sent from heaven down to earth 2000 years ago as “Saviour of the World.” You might look around and see all the wars, famine, drought, drug cartels, human trafficking, and so many other problems and think, “which part did he save?”

That’s a fair question as you face many hardships; chaos is everywhere. The beauty and magnificent splendour of the Garden of Eden seems so out of reach. You find it hard to imagine a world without worry, a planet of peace.

Jesus promised that in this world you WOULD have troubles.

Bummer!

Until he comes back or you’re in heaven, you will not experience perfection. However, Jesus DID overcome the world through his death and resurrection; and, because of this, you have the hope of heaven; you CAN and SHOULD pray for it to be brought down to your world each and every day. 

Recently, over 140,000 Brazilians, including their President, attended the Send Conference, hungry to see God move. Movements like Hillsong Church are seeing expansion across the earth with over 80 churches in 21 countries now. Stadiums are filled with young adults at conferences like Passion with Louie Giglio every year. Christian production companies are making wholesome family movies that promote Christian values (and they aren’t cheesy and lame)!

God is on the move across the earth. The church is not dead! 

No matter what you hear on the news or in your own circles of friends, Jesus is on the throne and he has already defeated the enemy of your soul. Yes, this world is struggling in many ways. The devil seeks to steal, kill and destroy. But the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives and moves within you.

Access that power today as you lift up this world in prayer.

*Today, in your time of fasting and prayer, ask God to move mightily on the Earth. Pray for continued revival within the church. Ask God to bring unity among believers so that their impact is greater. Pray for protection of missionaries and servants of God in third world and war torn regions. Ask God to be known in Communist countries where law and culture prohibit the free expression of faith. Believe by faith that more people will come to know Christ around the world despite its struggles.

family, Health, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 8: “Family Matters”

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Neighbours, Full House. Decades have passed with television mirroring family life. Do you have a favourite family sitcom or drama?

Watching other families struggle, laugh, fight, and love has always been a drawcard for audiences. Maybe it’s the reflection you see in your own life coming alive on the screen. Or, maybe you like the stability and perfection of TV show families (remember Leave it to Beaver?) as you daydream ideas for your own.

Every family is made up of unique individuals. Households look different depending on culture, work, living arrangements, urban vs country, and more. As you choose the path of putting God first in your life to start off your year, you are making a hearty declaration for your unique tribe. The foundation in your personal life spills over into your marriage. You build security for your children, your grandchildren, and extended family as you put God first.

As the health of the family goes, so goes the health of society. 

Imagine a healthy community of believers whose spiritual lives are stable and secure. You are a piece of a larger puzzle, fitting together God’s greater plan. Once your own four walls are stable, you begin to fortify those around you. Your family unit acts as a beautiful pillar in a long row of columns holding up all of society. This applies even if you’re not married with children!

Our community needs people like you. Strong and steady. Full of joy and peace. Your family, an example of unity and enthusiasm for life, bringing heavenly contributions wherever you go.

Today, pray intentionally for the Christian families you know. They face trials and have struggles; sometimes, afraid to reveal them for fear it might ruin their witness for Christ. As you are more capable in your own walk with God, begin to ask him who in your church or in your friendship circle might need specific prayer today.

Pray for protection over other families you know. Pray that marriages would stick out the hard times. Ask God to guard the mouths of those who might harm others with their words. Jesus, help those who resort to numbing their pain with pills or alcohol. Show them a glimpse of your love today.

Transparency and trust are at the centre of the family unit, so pray for families to fight for what is necessary to be honest and vulnerable with each other. Pray that dinners dinners and quality time together building bonds and memories will be a priority.

Domestic violence, divorce, and lack of financial security act as conduits for dysfunction within homes. Pray against these issues today. Winning the daily battles families face wages a war against brokenness across all of society.

*God loves you unconditionally no matter what your family situation is like today. No doubt, there are relationships that need work. Grief might be overriding your sense of peace and joy within your home. A loved one who has gone astray might consume you with fear and doubt. Lay these burdens at the foot of the cross today and expect God to intervene in a supernatural way that only he can.

Devotion, government, Leadership, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Pray for Governments around the World.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the itty bitty babies in his hands. You may have sung this song as a child – a reminder and promise that whatever comes your way, you can trust a BIG God to take care of it and you.

It’s hard to imagine your personal, intimate God who loves you and cares about everything you’ve brought to him during this time of prayer and fasting is the same One who set the stars in place. Named them too. The Earth orbits the sun by his hand, the same gentle hands that tell the children to come to him.

Poverty, world hunger, climate change, wars, economic failure, corrupt officials, Dictatorships, Communism. The world needs people like YOU, calling up to heaven, petitioning for heaven to come down.

Today, pray for those who are elected to serve our democracy. Elections in both state and federal governments will occur this year. Pray for the right leaders to fulfil the offices required to move our country forward. From local to national, their burdens are heavy and they need wisdom and strength to serve with integrity.

Pray for world leaders and nations divided. Ask for God’s protection and hand upon children less fortunate than yours who live in tumultuous places. You may never visit those lands but from your lips to God’s ears, you can affect them.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”

Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)
Community, Devotion, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 13: “Peace. In the Neighbourhood.”

A neighbourhood is the district in which you live. It’s your suburb, your address, and the determinate for where your children go to school. You come and go each day, probably giving little thought to your surroundings. An unconscious habit, you drive home like a robot programmed and automated.

Your senses are being heightened and your spiritual ears are tuned in like never before while you are fasting. Take note of your surroundings today. Which of your neighbours might need a word of encouragement? Who can benefit from your prayers over their marriages, health, or children?

Your influence can turn a group of people living in proximity to one another into a tight-knit community, looking out and caring for one another. The Bible says that by showing hospitality to strangers, some people have entertained angels without even knowing it.

Commit yourself to being a neighbour full of light. Let go of your complaints. Smile and lend a hand. Slow down enough to chat in the driveway. Live expectantly on your block. Ask for peace to come into your hood.

Lift up in prayer those who look after your neighbourhood today. Police, firefighters, ambulance workers: all shift-working for your good. They see the worst of what happens within the four walls next door. Under pressure, they make life and death decisions putting themselves at risk. Ask God to protect them and give thanks for their service.

“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”


1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 (MSG)
Devotion, family, peace, Series, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Peace. In Family, pt 2.”

Healthy families are the fabric of a thriving society. Despite their imperfections, families provide stability and structure around the home life, our communities, and ultimately entire nations.

Broken families lead to poverty, lower academic achievements of children, and increased social problems. Although studies have been done the world over which draw these conclusions and validate God’s word in regards to his plan for marriage and family, you’re bombarded with the opposite messages.

The media tells you men can’t be trusted and that they are “toxic.” They are degraded and demoralised in our television shows. It’s a weakness for a woman to express her need and desire to have the leadership of a strong man in her life. The feminist movement has pushed a false agenda of “empowerment” onto women which says they don’t need fathers for their babies or two incomes to survive. All the evidence proves otherwise.

And, most importantly, God wants families in tact.

He longs for two parents to raise their children in loving, stable homes. God desires marriages to be strong and for your life and calling to intertwine and intermingle with your kids and their callings. You aren’t meant to live with a compartmentalised hierarchy of priorities. Allow God to flow through the mess of everyday life; and, by bringing unity in the home, let him weave his will into every situation. God first and everything else second. Moving in a rhythm of grace, pursuing God as individual family units creates momentum in our neighbourhoods and communities.

Your impact snowballs and takes ground everywhere it flows.

Today, let’s join in prayer for the family unit itself. If your family doesn’t look like you wish it did, it’s okay. God knows your desires and he has a plan for you. Spend time praying into your situation and asking the Lord to bring together strong families all across our nation. Pray for children who are being exposed to domestic violence and who are neglected emotionally. Ask God to mend broken hearts and give husbands and wives a fervour to fight for their marriages.

“To the fatherless he is a father.
    To the widow he is a champion friend.
    To the lonely he gives a family.
    To the prisoners he leads into prosperity until they sing for joy.
    This is our Holy God in his Holy Place!
    But for the rebels there is heartache and despair.”

Psalm 68:5-6 (TPT)
Contentment, Friendship, Fun, Inspiration, Kids, Personal Growth, Social problems, Uncategorized

Soul-Trading

mark 8-36If you’re a parent, I would venture to say you spend a lot of time helping your children explore their interests, find their passions, make friends, and grow in their abilities. Outside a typical school day, you cart them to swim and music lessons, sports trainings and games, tutoring.

You make sure they don’t miss the party invite (what if they don’t get invited again or are left out on the playground at school?)! We only have Wednesday afternoons free and the school just opened up a term of Oztag… perfect! Sign us up! Wait… what’s Oztag?

My own daughter tried ballet, hip hop, gymnastics (at two different gyms) before we realised her passion was music and art. She now also plays netball for both her school and club.

How do we, as parents fit it all in? What’s the motivation for all this, (shall I daresay “over-scheduling”)? We tell ourselves we want what’s best for them. Some of us believe our kids are stars and in order to get ahead, they must perfect their trade. We must set them up for success. And… Kids are demanding at times. They tell us what they want to do and we jump through every hoop to make it happen. I mean, how guilty would we feel if right down our very own hallway slept the next Mozart and we didn’t pay for that extra term of piano lessons?

We live in crazy times! All this taxiing our children to and fro. Then, what’s left of us, these devoted, well-intentioned grown-ups?

Soul weary, budget busted, time strapped adults whose sleep patterns are poor and marriages are weak.

In the pursuit of fostering well-rounded, talented, happy children who have friends and self-confidence, we can lose our own souls. What happened to regular date nights? Adult friends who party with us while the children go to bed?

What are MY interests?

Didn’t I have hobbies once upon a time?

Where are friends who make me laugh, those who spur me on towards becoming my best self?

All of our choices come at a cost. This over-scheduling and saying “yes” to the aforementioned litany of options means saying “no” to other things. Unfortunately, those “other things” can be the very ones which sustain our souls. The fun. Spiritual growth. Marriage. Small group at church. Rest.

Let’s don’t mistake “good parenting” for soul-trading.

Kids need parents who love each other and they need to see us taking care of ourselves, embracing a hobby, setting boundaries, living within our means. The lessons WE teach through lives devoted to Jesus, the church, our marriages, and sabbath rest far outweigh any weekly half hour lesson you could pay for with someone else in charge.

“What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for” (Mark 8:36 MSG).