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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Stained Glass Windows

I read this quote today:
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out. But when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within."-- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Do you see yourself as a beautiful stained-glass window?

I personally love this imagery, as I love stained-glass windows that tell stories and display such beautiful pictures. Not forgetting old cathedrals that force me to contemplate the splendour and magnitude of our creator. Of course no man-made structure can ever compare to God, but I cannot help but appreciate wonderful masterpieces of design.

How true is it, that it is easy for people to shine when all is well in their life? And then when difficult times come, many fail to shine for they have no light within?

Have you ever known anyone who continued to shine even when enduring such loss or pain? I have.

It is often not until we witness someone undergoing extreme hardship that we see how real their faith is, and I believe this is proven by the scripture:

Romans 5: 3b-4 “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope”

God will use all of our real experiences for good, if only we let Him.

Scripture says we will share in Christ's sufferings, but this isn't a message always spoken. God does not want to just save us. He wants to save us and transform us into the likeness of His Son Jesus because He has adopted us into His family – this is called sanctification.

Just as Christ suffered, we must be prepared to wage war with our flesh and also suffer in dying to it. As it says in 1 Peter 4:1-3

"Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries.”

The more we choose to let go of anything which is coming before God and to die to our own natural nature, the more we will shine the light of Christ.

Sanctification is a process. When we give our lives to God through Jesus, God begins a major restoration project within us. Like a skilled craftsman restoring the stained-glass windows of a magnificent cathedral, The Lord will begin cleaning each dark, stained, dirty piece. He will clean and mend each piece with gentle precision, so that His child will shine the light of Jesus out to the darkened world.

If there is something you need to let go of, I hope I can encourage you to focus upon the One indwelling within you for the source of power to overcome. It doesn't matter where you are in your sanctification, or how long you've been a Christian or struggled, because when we are born-again we all have the same One living within us and He doesn’t play favourites with His kids.

How big is your faith? How much do you trust Him? We only need faith the size of a tiny mustard seed for Him to do a miracle in us.

Sadly Jesus could not perform any miracles in His home town, as their hearts were cold toward Him. Let us not grow cold, rather may He be our passion that we are willing to sacrifice all for. I do not want to be a window that is so darkened it can only reflect light; I want to be a beautiful stained-glass window that shines out because of the warm light inside.

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with this contemplative song Blessings by Laura Story:

Monday, 18 April 2016

For those who desire to be a disciple of Christ: 3 simple questions to consider for the battle.

Okay here are the 3 questions for consideration:

What is stronger?

1. Love or evil?

2. Gentleness or force?

3. Myself or Jesus?

We all know the right answer when the questions are posed so simply, for scripture itself states it all so beautifully clear:

Love is stronger: 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.' Romans 12:9-21.

Gentleness is stronger: 'The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,' 2 Timothy 2:24-25.

Again gentleness is stronger: '..sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;' 1 Peter 3:15.

Jesus is stronger: 'But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.' Galatians 5:16.

Again God is stronger: 'You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.' 1 John 4:4

So then, why do we often struggle, fighting battles in our own strength? Why do we let our flesh lead rather than the blessed Holy Spirit?

This is what I am thinking about today, for I am not perfect. I need to continually stay in a place of true humility to Jesus and fight my flesh.

It is so easy to fall into the enemy's plan of division, when we get puffed up and feel as if everything is against us...

We feel isolated and afraid...the two very things The Lord does not give! For The Lord brings about relationship, unity and peace.

This is not to say that our experiences will be easy. Rather that even when we find ourselves in a trial, if we fight our fleshly response, and seek His wisdom above our own natural inclinations, we will experience His peace and the result will be evident good fruit.

Here are my thoughts for your own reflection:

1. Love does not mean that I have to accept everything and hold to no moral values of my own, or that I need to accept liberal theology – Rather it means I will love someone despite their flaws when no one else will, and that The Lord provides the right time and place for the Truth to be heard.

2. Speaking gently does not mean I will not discuss difficult topics – Rather I will speak from my own experience when asked, not to just force my opinion.

3. Being led by Jesus means that I will fight my battles His way – Rather than mine. This means I will be less anxious about what I need to do and that I will be more prayerful, enabling Him to go before me and make the way. It means sometimes I will be silent. I will understand that I may only play a small part in a much bigger picture. I will realise I am not the only instrument God will use, and He loves the lost more than I do, so I should never become a stumbling block for someone else.

When I am led by Jesus, I am not led by my theology or apologetic – rather His wisdom and love which is the true power to break through strongholds. Leading myself results in exhaustion rather than renewed strength.

When I am led by Jesus, I seek Him as the fount of all peace and wisdom that He truly is – for we can bear no fruit without Him.

In His love, Melanie.

Let me leave you with this song for further quite reflection:

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Why do I have to suffer?

Why do I have to suffer?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Now, let me clarify, I don't mean a reflection upon generic suffering, like thinking about the fall of man and the consequences. I mean really pleading internally, “Why do I have to suffer this?”

Because I'm sure we all know how much easier life is, without living with the consequences of brokenness that we have no control over; like our bodies, or someone's poor choices.

Personally, yesterday was the culmination of a challenging month for me. It resulted in a very challenging afternoon and evening, where I was quite unwell mentally and physically.

I could not help but think in my humanness, “Why do I have to suffer like this? I am so much better without this and I am supposed to be a pastor!”

Yet this evening I got some news about a friend, and rather than judging (yes, I can easily do this) my heart broke for this person, and I prayed a prayer for them I honestly know I could not have prayed without having experienced suffering myself once again yesterday.

As Christians we know the theology of staying humble and relying upon The Lord to guide us, as opposed to our flesh...but it is another thing to learn this theology.

Yes I am a pastor, but I am human and need to 'practice what I preach'.

None of us like pain and suffering we have no control over, it can make us feel vulnerable and inadequate, tired and frustrated, even different and alone...

But it is from a place of inadequacy and vulnerability, that we can approach the throne of grace where Jesus sits. Seeking Him again and again to be our only sufficiency.

It is by suffering that Jesus lived His humanity and it is therefore by suffering that we truly journey alongside others.

It is all too easy to get puffed up and to forget how real struggling can be when we do well for a season. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote about boasting of suffering – because of the good it can produce. Read it here, Romans 5.

If you are suffering from something you have no control over be kind to yourself. It is unhealthy and non-biblical to view yourself as less-than other Christians, or uncared for by God, or unable to serve. We are not super-human, we are all brothers and sisters because of the One who is more.

When in the storm, hold onto His promises, while praying and waiting for day-break. Do not surrender to anything but Him.


Let me leave you with a song that has really helped me this week: