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Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Thursday, 29 December 2016

STOP holding on and just be HELD:

In my post yesterday I wrote about being more of a “Martha than Mary”, as I often express my love for Jesus through deeds and I do need to fight my flesh to stop 'keeping busy' and have quiet moments of reflection and worship...I was writing about this as I lost all the work I had done over a year on a new book, but believed I heard The Lord say to me that I needed to let go of the book as He had a better can read the post here.

The moments I have found the most difficult in my own life are the ones when I am struggling with something going on, or even something I desire is simply not happening. Yesterday's incident was a minor storm in comparison to some I have endured.

When I was a relatively new Christian I heard a woman deliver a message related to her own life with a warning that the Christian life was not easy, and to be prepared for the unexpected storm that would come and knock one flat. When I heard this I was actually both a little shocked and upset thinking, “My pre-Christian life was such a struggle, and since turning to Christ has been wonderful. I understand I may face persecution for my faith but being knocked down flat, I don't think so. Perhaps this woman is bitter, also she has been a Christian her whole life and doesn't have MY past! No, God will protect me and won't allow such tragedy to happen...” This woman's speech was in a series and I liked everyone's message, including her's...Just not the warning! I thought, “Who does she think she is...she doesn't know what will happen in my life!”

What I did not realise was this woman was wise, much wiser and mature than me. For indeed times have come when I have fallen to my knees and called out to The Lord in desperation...and yes, this was way later than when I repented and was saved!

Yet this is something I have found to be true...

The Lord may allow storms to impact our lives but it is to grow us in our faith. He may take something away, or allow someone to leave, but if He does it is a necessary work of pruning to make way for something worth much more to come forth!

I know what it is like to feel disappointed, or to be in a season of winter while awaiting new growth. If you're in this place please do not despair or turn away from Him. Rather trust in the truth that He is good and has a great plan, so much bigger than our own dreams, and hold on tight for the fresh joy will come in the right time!

It may be years, where you only see tiny promising buds but do not lose hope. NEVER FORGET our God is a miracle worker, who also grows us through trials to become more and more like Jesus. When things aren't great that's when we truly have to exercise faith.

No-one is inspired by a testimony that has no real struggle or message of deliverance coming from God alone...and when we pray, “Jesus save me, make me Yours...forgive me and transform me!” We are praying for Jesus to make our life a testimony to HIS GLORY!

There is nothing more powerful than a Christian's life testimony to impact other human beings, because without a testimony to God's power all our good deeds are simply humanitarian good deeds. Oh how He desires our lives to be living testimonies to his Goodness, Faithfulness and Power!

Yesterday I did lose my entire year's work on the book I was writing. It felt like another disappointment but I did think I heard The Lord basically say, "Let go and trust me, I have a better plan" and I felt this had to do with music. Oh the spiritual attack of doubts and fear came, but I kept praying and continued to work on a new song. I finished the song and was happy with it and after practicing it today I began strumming some chords and singing a tune from deep within...I just let go and worshiped, playing and strumming. What came out was an amazing worship song from The Lord...So simple, moving and beautiful, all in maybe 60 seconds! I kid you not...The verse, pre-chorus and chorus all just flowed out in that moment of surrendered worship.

I just had to share this as I feel so encouraged and strengthened by what just happened. I love you all. May you also be blessed by worshiping Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and experience this intimacy as I have. For indeed it is His BREATH in our lungs and it is in Him we live and move and have our existence and purpose.

Never forget we have a GOOD FATHER in heaven, who LOVES us more than we could ever imagine. He desires for us to become more and more like Jesus from our experiences, and obedient to His will and good plan for our lives, so that His Kingdom work here will be done as it is in heaven. Never give up your HOPE in Him to meet you needs and carry you through the storms. FRESH JOY will come! Be free from any fear that clings close by praying, “Your will be done and not mine...protect me and guide my steps...shut this door if it is not Your will for me!”

Love Mel.

Let me leave you to reflect upon these lyrics and the song, 'Just be held' from Casting Crowns:

Just Be Held

Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere, and barely leaves you holding on
And when you're tired of fighting, Chained by your control
There's freedom in surrender, Lay it down and let it go
So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm, You'll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross, You'll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted, In time, you'll understand
I'm painting beauty with the ashes, Your life is in My hands

So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away
You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place
I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Whole Year's Work LOST!

I'm on a holiday break from work at the moment, and truth be told I am somewhat of a “Martha” in how I express my love for Jesus...I can find it difficult to not work at times and just rest.

So, this morning with no set plans for the day, I decided I would do some work on a devotional I had been working on for over the past year or more. I was thinking of calling this new book, 'A Desert Flower Blooming', as it was a devotional based on my personal 'wilderness' experience and of course scripture. The theme was based upon what I believe The Lord had said to me after being in the 'wilderness' for a few years. It was something like, 'Don't wait until you're out of this wilderness to bloom for me, do it now!' Even though it was something personal I believe I needed to hear, I felt it may help others, and so I decided to write a book with all new content not published on the blog.

There were at times I wondered how much of 'my idea' the book was, but with quite a heavy workload I found the book to be a good outlet. It was also something that made me feel productive by giving me something to be 'working towards', because creative people, like myself, often find long-term projects tiresome.

I hadn't worked on the book for some months due to family, finishing work, moving back to Victoria, starting my new job and Christmas...No surprise there! But I had also enjoyed the break as I felt The Lord was still revealing new things that could impact the book.

This morning, after a lazy beginning I turned my laptop on, (still not entirely sure how much of the book idea was mine or God's) only to realise my laptop was new – My old one had 'died' when I dropped it some months back in South Australia and THAT was the laptop I had been using...Not this one! With some panic rising, I searched my one external hard drive and no, it was not there...I came to realise I had no way of retrieving my work.

I admit my first thought was a very fleshly one something like... “But I've told people about this new book! Oh my, people will either think I made it up, or that I'm stupid for not backing up...”

Yet, I have felt very strongly, recently that The Lord moved me back to Victoria for a fresh joy and new beginning for family and pastoral ministry/music purposes. None of which are related to a published writing career! Indeed I have been hearing His voice clearly time and time again over the past six months or so in relation to many things (moving back to Victoria is just one). The wonderful thing with hearing His voice over many years, is you actually do get better at distinguishing it from your own thoughts.

What I believe I heard this morning was something my pride did not really like so much...It was, “This work was not meant to be published, it was just between you and me, I'm calling you to a new thing...” So then I prayed (hoping I heard wrong) something like, “Lord, if it's your will for me to have this work let it be so!” I continued searching but could not find it, and found myself having to let go of this book idea, knowing the writing was meant to stay personal and cathartic.

I admit I was disappointed for a little while, as I had been excited about the idea of possibly being professionally published (yes, vain I know). I did contemplate taking the laptop to a professional to see if they could somehow retrieve the book...But honestly I don't think this is The Lord's will. You see, the thing with getting better at hearing His voice (I have found) is that it gets easier when you are obedient. And I really don't want to go backwards because seriously, who likes being confused? Not me! I've been there in the past with disobedience to His 'smaller, still voice' and following the louder, more exciting voice of my own.

I feel The Lord so gently and lovingly, has asked me to let go of this idea of mine which served a purpose over the past year, and to once again trust Him with His good plan for me. So I am letting go and letting Him lead, and in this I have His peace.

I am reminded once again, that my Father is Good and LOVES me more than I can fathom. I am a daughter of The King who loves me irrespective of what I ever do or produce! It is perfectly acceptable to rest and wait and it is much more profitable (for myself and others) to follow His leading more than my own ideas.

Love, as always, Melanie.

Let me leave you with, "Trust in You" by Laura Daigle.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Spoiler Alert: God doesn't save us to go to heaven!

Okay I'm sure my title has grabbed your attention.

If you're offended, please stay with me for a short while and hear what I have to say, because even if you've been taught differently, I want to share with you what the Bible actually says about us being saved.

If you've been taught Jesus came so you can go to heaven, I'm sorry but you haven't been told the whole truth. I think this part-truth, is sadly why so many people wait to seek forgiveness from God until their death bed, or just ignore salvation altogether, believing life with God is no fun and lacks purpose.

But this couldn't be further from the truth, as the truth is God does not save us just to go to heaven.

Now if I've started your mind spinning, just keep reading...

You see, many, many people have heard...God saves us so we can go and be with Him in heaven. This is why many children ask, “But what will we do forever in heaven?” and many adults have no answer.

Yet the truth is Jesus saves us to make us a child of God, because we do not begin life as one...We begin life separated from God by sin which is why WE MUST HAVE a spiritual re-birth. It is the blessed Holy Spirit who makes us heirs to God's Kingdom which is to come HERE ON EARTH when Jesus returns, and as children of God we are saved to serve our Father and King in His redeeming work.

If we die before Jesus returns, yes we will rest in heaven, but if not, we will be transformed in the blink of an eye to receive our immortal bodies, along with every other child of God and we will inherit the NEW EARTH.

So no, we are NOT SAVED just to go to heaven for eternity. This is simply not biblical.

'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.' 1 Corinthians 15:52.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4.

When Jesus returns, sin and the enemy, will be dealt with for the final time. Now is the time for us as His children to share this truth, so others can also become children of God.

We are saved to partner with God as His children in His Kingdom work...what an amazing purpose this truly is and this is the truth people need to hear! God saves us and transforms us, making us fit for His work while we await His return.

Titus says this truth so clearly:

'For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:11-14.

'For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure.
I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone.' Titus 3:3-9.

Did you know God has a purpose and plan for His Kingdom work to begin here and now before He returns? That this is the role His children have as His heirs? That salvation is not just to fit us for heaven?

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with Casting Crowns, 'Glorious Day'.

Friday, 23 December 2016

A New Song.

So many times when I have felt low, The Lord has directed me to psalms where the authors, despite their troubles give praise to The LORD.

Individual psalms are diverse from each other yet they proclaim the truth of God's goodness, righteousness, justice and sovereignty. Psalmists offer praise and thanks despite their current circumstances...holding steadfast onto the unchanging truth; God's character and commitment to us as both His work of creation and as His redeemed children.

This is what I believe it means to, 'Sing a new song to The Lord' with our lives. We are to live a life of praise to The One who has redeemed us. We 'sing a new song' because it is a song only a redeemed person who becomes a child of God through Jesus can sing...the 'old' flesh cannot sing this joyous song, it can only sing a dirge.

'Sing to him a new song' Ps 33:3a.

To 'sing a new song' is to live a life of hope, despite our circumstances because our God is 'A God of hope'.

Romans 15:13, 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' This is God working in us to lead a life that is not like the rest of the world, so we shine like lights.

'O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.' Ps 98:1

'Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth...for he is coming to judge the earth.' Ps 98:4a;9b

What a marvelous work He has done in us – This should give us the courage to persevere in hope that the trouble we are enduring will pass. Tomorrow is always a new day. Each day holds new possibilities and new miracles...having that hope is us exercising our faith in the One who is unchanging! Furthermore, Jesus is coming and therefore we are to live our lives as redeemed children by a new anthem, a new song of hope because of what is to come upon His return. We will be vindicated and both the earth and all His people will be restored to perfection.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him, bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100).

Should this not be our anthem to live as Christians?

We are the redeemed and we should live our life as a new, joyous song, which proclaims this reality and offer to all people.

Are you feeling worn and tired, do you feel like you're lacking joy? It's okay of you are, I have experienced that and really don't think it represents a lack of commitment.

But I know that our God is the God of hope and He desires us to live 'a new song' – so if you need encouragement, read the psalms which encourage us to sing the truth despite our circumstances, and to hope in what He will do in the right timing; for that is real faith and He desires to grow this in us.

Remember The Lord is faithful and just and will not overlook your troubles. Keep prayerful, watchful and optimistic – everyday is a new opportunity for you to witness what He is doing if you take the time to look, and is an opportunity for new miracles to be birthed.

'O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.' Ps 98:1.'For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.' Jer 29:11.

Love Melanie.

'Sing a new song', worship set by Bethel church:

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas 2016

For me Christian holidays are often a time when culturally and socially I connect with others through the season, and find the opportunity for reflection and recalibration in regards to my life and relationships. I find Christmas being in December a good time to reflect upon the year past and to l look forward to the new year and Easter; as to how I may live the next year in the revelation of the resurrected One...

Now this all may sound very 'church like' to you and I agree it is...But that's because I don't go to church services to connect with God for one day only. I go to church services with an expectation to leave encouraged and strengthen for my daily Christian life. You see for me, I don't think I would go to church services if I did not experience growth and change and find myself living out what I've been taught at church...

Personally even though I walk each day with Jesus, I still find Christian holidays a chance in my busy life to reflect more intentionally and deeply on either the birth or death and resurrection of Christ, and what this means practically for me and my three sons. Indeed Christmas and Easter are annual and therefore seem to arrive so quickly; yet I still find when these holidays arrive I examine my life. Each holiday season I find myself and my little family in a new stage of our life together, and therefore my reflection as to how we will live out the reality Jesus has set before us changes.

Christmas 2016 for me is the fifth as a single woman with the responsibility of raising three young men on my own. I have my sons 100% of the time and this is the first Christmas where I am very aware of their maturity into male adulthood...My 3 sons are no longer three little boys.

So I sit here in our beautiful country home and ponder...

I reflect upon what the meaning of Christ's birth this Christmas means for us practically as a family. And what this means for me as head of our family. What this means as with Jesus beside me, I work to raise three young men into godly men, mostly alone.

Now please don't get me wrong, I am not sad or negative about the challenge my life presents as a single Christian parent. I really do know I am NOT alone, I feel Jesus with me all the time...but in practical ways I am mostly on my own. I do feel so grateful our home is one with Jesus in it. I am extremely thankful for how abundantly blessed we are; for even though I am single we are well provided for.

This Christmas season my thoughts have been focused on the importance of FAMILY - Of making the most of being blessed to be a mother with full-time care of her children, and the freedom to impart the truth of Christianity.

So I sit here thinking of the great gift Jesus is to us. For He is the only way we can become a part of God's family...The only way we can be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God who is without sin. I think of The One who is so great becoming one of us, and serving us in such humility to make us His brothers and sisters that I am drawn to wanting this holiday to be in some way for us, a practical expression of this reality.

So I am choosing to give my sons this season the gift of serving each other as family should...even if it is only a dim reflection of Jesus' service. For if Jesus gave us Himself in servitude to make us His family when we turn to Him, we need to mature into loving servants, and this lesson starts at home.

So aside from an actual Christmas present, I am intentionally giving my sons this season more responsibilities. More chores and opportunities to serve one another. I am letting my sons become young men. I am buying less gifts and expecting them to give more of their time and effort to thankfully serve their family they are blessed to have. I am trying to lead us into not focusing on what we do not have, rather upon each other and the eternal life we have thanks to Jesus.

Jesus is the true light who came into the world as the star shone over Bethlehem around 2,000 years ago. He did not give us an example of wealth, greed and gluttony, rather one of resisting our flesh, love and servant-hood...He gave us the true example of family love which is sacrificial.

So this is my heart this Christmas season. How can we (me and my three sons), do FAMILY this holiday time in a way which honours Jesus and is different to how unbelievers are spending this time? How can we live the reality that God made the way for us to become His children, to become a part of His family by becoming a human being? How can we do FAMILY His way this holiday time, to set us up for the new year approaching?

I feel the need to finish this post by saying our focus this Christmas and every Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ; regardless of this time of year in the past being a pagan holiday ~ For God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). I believe what once was a pagan holiday became a time for the gospel to be celebrated and proclaimed by Christians and I believe this is something my family and I can be thankful for. This holiday is 'clean' for us (1 Corinthians 8), so please respect this.

Merry Christ-mas, love Melanie.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Make Me A River: The Discipleship Decision.

Living takes a decision once life is given. Or to put it another way, once life is given, it takes a conscience decision to keep living.

In the womb where life begins, a decision is made by the mother to love and care for her child inside...Then after bursting out it is not too long before the child makes many decisions to foster their life on their own.

Life is so precious and The God I know, Jesus Christ, has made a way for us to have life as it was created to be – a life of love and joy in abundance, for all eternity through and in Him!

But recently I have been surrounded by an almost overwhelming amount of grief and loss.

Too many people are being touched by a desire to end their life, or hurt themselves, or are suffering because ones they love are feeling this way, or may have already chosen to end their own life.

It seems so many are sticking their heads in the ground, or hiding under their bed covers hoping that tomorrow when or if, they take their head out all will be well again...Hoping it is all just a passing storm or a bad dream they will awake from.

I know what it is like to hide. To hide from The One whom I knew was calling me.

Far too long I hid away and suffered silently with anxiety, trying to cope on my own. Choosing to hide my secret in the dark rather than coming to The Light, Jesus Christ. This was real hopelessness and is why so many people keep suffering, and why others do not know how to truly help others in their own life who are struggling...

There is healing available in Jesus. When Jesus was here on earth, people took their sick to Him and they were healed. This healing is still available today but people must be willing to go to Jesus and to lead others to Him.

True love heals...but it costs us our pride.

We must come to a place of acknowledging all our efforts are like bandaids and we cannot solve the deep problem of our empty souls, and selfish sin.

True love heals. It costs us our pride but it comes with the free gift of forgiveness, salvation and re-birth from Jesus.

This is why true healing is transformative. It is holistic.

This is why Jesus forgave people's sins as well as healed their physical ailments and He still does today.

People must make the decision to choose life. They must choose to give up their pride and receive the gift of forgiveness and life.

Life is NOT simply existing, to then die a death where one is left separated from God. Real Life is NOT autonomous, purposeless, and lonely.

It is a Life that rises each day with Jesus, basks in His love, and feels His embrace in both the times of laughter and of hardship...It is a Life that has purpose and meaning in Jesus...A Life that pours out His healing LOVE to others wherever they may be.

It is an individual who has chosen to be a disciple...An individual who does not expect to be discipled by someone else, rather grasps the gift of True Life which has been given to them through Jesus and prays moment by moment:
“Father make me a river, come Living Water flow through me. You are The One that I thirst for, so come Living Water flow through me. Guide every step I take. Lord let me not wander away. Father, fill every word I speak with the same grace you've given me. Touch the world with my hands, they are Yours. Let my love show the lost that You are Lord...Father make me a river.” (Casting Crowns)

We are not saved to just go to heaven. We are saved to have Real Life that is lived with God in us, and to pass this good news of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation to others.

Have you made The Discipleship Decision yourself or are you waiting to be discipled? Are you seeking to become a river with all you heart, soul, mind and strength to reach the lost? Don't wait...Others need to receive His love through you so they may be freed from a life of hopelessness!

Love Mel x

(This post has been somewhat inspired by 'Make Me A River' By Casting Crowns, so let me leave you with the song)