Like what you read?

Life of an Ordinary Aussie Woman

Monday, 30 January 2017

A Bruised Reed...

Imagine if you will, a perfect flower arrangement with one bruised and wilted stem, languishing among a vase full of strong, upright, beautiful blooms. Your hand reaches out to remove the almost broken, ugly one but then you hear Jesus say, “A bruised reed I will not break”.

What will you do? It's surely quicker and easier to throw it out, but let's say you want to obey. If you're anything like me, you'll probably quickly maneuver it behind another stem for support, slightly frustrated the bloom has wilted in the first place so quickly! I mean who likes inconvenience?

Real love is costly and inconvenient.

Okay, so let's say you quickly moved it behind another stem but then it again wilts down, just now from behind...The quick-fix and support of another stem did not work...Tempted once again to throw the stem out you hear Jesus again say, “A bruised reed I will not break”.

The real solution will be to attend to the stem's needs rather than a quick prop-up. The stem will need to be trimmed, placed within the center of the vase surrounded by many others, and have clean, fresh water supplied.

Real love is costly and inconvenient. It is patient, requiring grace and time.
I honestly don't like to be inconvenienced. I don't like being patient, facing frustrations, or praying for others who may have hurt me. It's much easier to cut people off. But Jesus' love compels me, for Jesus said, “A bruised reed I will not break” (Isaiah 42: 1-20).

Jesus said of the woman anointing His feet with her tears, that she loved so much because she had been forgiven of so much...Real love is costly and inconvenient. This display of love for Jesus was an outrageous, scandalous proclamation of devotion. It makes me ponder, how much do we give? How much do we let our faith inconvenience us? How outrageous and loud are we about grace and salvation?

Jesus said to those ready to throw the first stone and kill the woman caught in the very act of adultery, to only throw if they had no sin. We know from scripture they all put down their stones and walked away...

A bruised reed He will not break.

How often do we remember how much we have been forgiven of by Jesus? How quick are we to become like those who failed to see their own need before condemning others? How quick are we to let offenses cause division, and to let fears rob us of reaching out in love to the marginalised, or others of a different faith?

Jesus said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3-12)

Are we merciful? Are we peacemakers? Do we have pure motives? Do we let His love inconvenience and cost us? Do we pray for those who hurt or persecute us? Are we willing to call someone and make the first move for reconciliation whenever possible?

I was reminded recently that Jesus said, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matthew 7: 1-2).

May we remember each day, the mercy, forgiveness and grace we have been shown, and of our Father's gentleness and heart for others. For truly, a bruised reed He will not break.

May we rant less and share more in gentleness and through inconvenient love! Melanie.

Let me leave you with Casting Crowns, 'If we are the body'.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Be Thou My Vision.

With a somewhat heavy heart today I sat alone, and played and sang the old hymn, 'Be Thou My Vision'. While the version I played is a modern arrangement I have written myself, the main lyrics remained unchanged.

I played and sang unto my Lord, as a release from the heartache I felt and feel from hearing of mass massacres not only upon my own doorstep of Melbourne, but also in America, and of the tens of thousands of women marching in support of killing their own children within their wombs.

I took time and silently mourned our Western world's loss, of true sacrificial love and commitment. I took time to feel my heart break. Not only for the innocent children lost before they have a chance to make their own choices, but also for the ones born into families who are so self-focused and entitled they will grow without the skills to function as mentally-healthy adults.

Yes, I took time and allowed myself to feel the hurt, loss, and rejection our blessed creator must feel, but I also gave my heart to Him for healing as I sang.

I knew once again, as other times before that I had a choice. I needed to choose again what my focus would be, so that once again I could arise strengthened for the year of work approaching, as school returns here in Australia very shortly after our summer break.

Sometimes in difficult times we choose to focus on the life that is to come when Jesus returns, or upon the promises and riches we may inherit. And while this is not negative, I find this is not grounded enough upon the life and commission we are to fulfill here and now...

As I meditated upon the lyrics, 'Be Thou My Vision', my thoughts again turned to Jesus being my vision and focus for my work, here and now!

I found myself thinking about how Jesus would respond and the answer was overwhelmingly simple, with love and grace to all who may offend and hurt me.

Jesus said others will know we are His disciples from our LOVE!

It is His LOVE that brings breakthrough.

It is His LOVE conquers all.

It is His LOVE that forgives, heals, and transforms.

The truth is I can do nothing without Him. There is no real, permanent change in anyone's life and therefore our world without Him. I need to let Him and His LOVE work through me, and keep dying to myself and offenses, or else they will consume me.

So what does His LOVE look like shining out through me?

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 
1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Am I patient? Am I kind and not rude, irrespective of whether I'm behind a computer screen or not? Do I rejoice with others and the truth? Am I committed to my relationships and hope in God, standing upon His Word? Will I endure all heartache as a victor in Christ, and therefore forgive and pray for others?

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

I have often turned to the Psalms in times of need for encouragement, but I also love the truth and theology of old hymns. I find they speak so honesty of our Lord's greatness, and our constant need for Him. They take the singer's focus off of themselves, and proclaim the unchanging truth of our sovereign Lord, making them appropriate to sing in both times of joy and struggle.

I have chosen to again let Jesus be my vision, when so many dark things are vying to cloud my sight. I am choosing to pray rather than rant. To proclaim, even if others do not want to listen. And to faithfully love the ones He has placed in my life. Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart...

Love Melanie.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ephesians: Discipleship and Armour For Our Families.

I have known since being born-again, that I have not only become a child of God, I have been called along with every other believer to proclaim The Name of Jesus, so others may hear the message of salvation.

There is no way one can read the Bible as a believer and not hear this call.

Furthermore there is no way one can truly believe and love Jesus without responding to this call.

It's true we will respond as individuals to the great commission depending on our giftings, but I honestly believe our individual service is not the crux of the call...We have unity as the body of Christ by His Spirit and there is only one ultimate call and appropriate response.

I think sometimes we can get so wrapped up in ourselves and our individual calling or ministry that we forget the heart of God and what follows the call of spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth...TO MAKE DISCIPLES.

The heart of God is for relationship. Restored Relationship with Himself and others.

Spreading the Gospel is proclamation that THE WAY has been made by God for us to be forgiven, and to come into a loving relationship with Him as our Father.

God asks us to spread this message and then MAKE DISCIPLES...a less fancy way of saying this is God asks us to spread His message and then MAKE FAMILY.

A disciple is a dedicated follower of Jesus and therefore a child of God. A disciple is one who has come out of the world and gained a royal linage for eternity.

Making a disciple is not making an obedient, non-questioning soldier. Making a disciple is accepting someone as your family member, and then helping them to mature as a child of God. Obedience and loyalty to Christ will follow as a disciple matures. We do not need to dictate, rather love, teach, warn and encourage...leading by example and commitment. Sure spiritual warfare will be a part of a Christian's journey...but it's not the focus, we've already won via our redemption and we have the upper hand due to our new linage.

I think sometimes people can get caught up in church life and service, and forget that making disciples starts at home.

I was reading this evening about the armour of God in Ephesians and when my eyes darted to the previous verses which speak about Christian households, I began to thinking about the Armour of God in a new 'family' way, compared to a personal application as I usually would have. I then kept reading backwards through this encouraging epistle from Paul to the church in Ephesus, a gentile region.

Paul begins by reminding the group they have passed from death to life and that this makes them one in Christ. Paul is reminding them of their Royal Unity. He begins in Chapter 3 to speak of his own ministry to the 'gentiles' to encourage and prepare the Ephesians' minds for unified missional thinking and outreach and again reminds them of their 'new life' as children of God compared to their old ways and the rest of the world.

But this is when it gets interesting, Paul then halfway through Chapter 5 begins to warn the readers to be 'wise' in how they live but this is NOT necessarily as individuals, even though it could be read this way. You see, Paul has been speaking about unity throughout the whole epistle, unity as a CHURCH FAMILY for faithful witness and proclamation. And after saying to be 'wise' in the middle of Chapter 5 he then speaks immediately about the Christian household! Husbands, wives, children, slaves and masters...before closing with the 'Armour of God' which we are so familiar with and usually read personally...

So tonight I am reading it less personally, and I am thinking about my call to proclaim the Gospel and raise disciples and therefore my obligation to not only raise children, but to raise them as disciples...Because remember making disciples is really raising family members!

So my question is...Does it change our thinking if we begin to re-read the famous 'Amour of God' Ephesisans 6:10-17 section, as a direction for the discipleship of our own children in our own family home?

What if we took up the whole Armour to spiritually lead our own children, to raise them as disciples (Children of God) before any other person in our church? Would we see more children in church with their families? I honestly believe so.

What if we were prayer warriors who lead by true example, and put our children first before others, and included them in appropriate ministry work with us? What if when we put shoes on our feet to proclaim, we also let our children join in? What if we included our children in family discussions about real matters of faith to help them use the shield? What if we discussed scripture within everyday living, giving them a true helmet of salvation, and prioritised their own devotional reading of scripture?

Now I am not saying people do not raise their children lovingly as disciples this way, because I know many do. But there are many of us who need encouragement to do so and to continue doing so, and I think that perhaps reading the 'Armour of God' in this new way definitely can help.

Have a read yourself of Ephesians as a whole letter, and see what you think of this wonderful epistle as encouragement for not only yourself but in leading your own family and raising them as disciples!

Love Mel.

Oh what a Good Father we have...Let's point our children to Him who is always the answer!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

I Want To Know What Love Is.

The Catholic Catechism states the purpose of man is to know God, and to love and serve Him.

Yet if God is love, as we know He is, could our purpose be even simpler and less 'works' based?

Could it be as simple as, 'To know God'?

For to know God, is truly to know what love is, and love does not just serve, it gives.

Could the purpose of man be simply to KNOW GOD?

You see, we know God's heart is for relationship. We know His work after creation has been reconciliation and restoration. God has continually spoken and reached out to us time and time again, and His final Word was the LOVE of Jesus Christ so that we can become His children. Forgiven, restored and free for eternity with Him, through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

When a human being comprehends their own state of helplessness and need for Jesus, love is possible.

When we understand we're separated from God by our inherited sinful nature, and will be for eternity without His free gift of forgiveness and redemption only possible by Jesus dying our death upon the cross, we begin to comprehend true, selfless love, for the first time.

When we fall to our knees, turning away from our sin, seeking Jesus and forgiveness, we begin to let love in. When we commit our whole self to Jesus we fall deep into real love for the first time and find our purpose...

Our purpose is to KNOW God and to KNOW Him is to KNOW LOVE!

Yet knowing God, knowing love Himself does not stop at salvation – It is a lifetime experience of revelation.

One way The Lord will minister His love to us is through His children.

This can actually be a growth experience that isn't easy...yes, I'm speaking from experience!

When we've been hurt in the past by others, and/or our own poor choices, it can be difficult to accept true, genuine love when it comes.

Yet to know God is to know love and that includes receiving love from His family.

I experienced Jesus' salvation, becoming born-again in 2005, and The Lord wooed me mostly during our own private devotion time through scripture. He led me to a place in my life where I was so secure of His love for me, irrespective of any human love, that when my ex-husband left I never doubted God's love for me...Yet because of this experience and life in general, I came to a place where I didn't really trust anyone...

It's difficult to admit this but I know it's true...Not that it's wrong to guard one's heart, for we really do need to be wise and guard our hearts!

I've now come to a place in my life where I know I am healed from past hurts thanks to time with Jesus. You see, I did take the time to know my Father's love and therefore standards to expect from others. I learned so much about being a single, godly woman...About listening to my Father, about obedience, guarding my heart, boundaries and so on...But I realised recently, I also had LIMITED LOVE in my own mind.

You see, I had reasoned in my mind that perhaps my life was, 'as good as it gets'...that perhaps the only One I could really ever trust was God.

Yet, once again I am awed at His love for me, as I am now experiencing more of His LOVE afresh through someone so special, who loves The Lord as much as me, and has only good intentions towards me.

I must tell you, this love was somewhat difficult to accept at face value. I know now however, that The Lord has been using this person to draw me closer to Himself, and rebuild my trust in His children.

I am on a journey of knowing God and knowing Him is knowing His LOVE.

The Lord has continually been reminding me afresh that His plan and timing is perfect and that nothing is impossible for Him. His love is truly limitless!

If you've been hurt in the past, I encourage you to take all the time you need, letting Him lavish His love upon you, not looking to others for this first love you need foremost. Guard your heart but don't lose HOPE and limit His love, that will in the right time be available from His true children whom you will be able to trust. Keep prayerful and wise...

I do want to know what love is and this means trusting and accepting the good gift of His true love from new, genuine people and this is where I am at...

May you know Him who is LOVE too ~ Love, Melanie!

Let me leave you with Foreigner, 'I want to know what love is':

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Alleluia Our God Reigns...Happy New Year 2017!

'Alleluia Our God Reigns, more than just for yesterday. He Reigns, today!'

I've just spent some time reflecting upon The Lord's Sovereignty and Goodness, for His hand over my life has always been so evident. Yet at this time, right now, so many things are 'falling into place' by His hand that the clarity is breathtaking!

I began strumming on my guitar and the above lyrics came out to a new tune, and so I took a moment just to pour out my heart and worship Him...singing these lyrics over and over. It is these lyrics that will frame 2017 for me because I am absolutely certain, without a doubt, that The Lord's good purposes for me will be fulfilled.

I am not making a 'New Year's Resolution' for 2017, as this is not something I usually do. However I will be keeping The Lord's Glory and Sovereignty first and foremost in my mind, to let it frame my days and year.

I want my steps to be according to His Will, for with this comes His peace which truly does surpass all understanding...

I sit here contemplating the times of hardship over the past five years, when all I could see was one small puzzling piece. Of times when I cried and resolved to be a victor in Christ Jesus, rather than a victim. Of times when I felt rejected but chose instead to trust my Father, His Goodness, Love, and Ultimate Sovereignty. Of times when daylight began to break through and I could see some of the pieces merging to make part of a picture, while longing for the whole section to be completed. Of times when I stumbled, repented and experienced His grace afresh. Of times of confusion, so prayerfully letting go. Of times when I chose to work hard at the only thing I knew for certain.

I reflect back and now sit in awe, marveling at His amazing, good hand...For He truly does work all things (including our mistakes) together for the good of His children.

I sit here and am again awed at His AMAZING Grace and Love.

Here now I sit knowing, that I am absolutely out of my wilderness season and I am reminded again that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD!

We may need to wait, and experience a wilderness...But nothing is wasted and nothing is impossible for God – The One who resurrects us from a dead life, transfers us into His Kingdom, and transforms us into the likeness of Christ!

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE for our God who reigns!

'Alleluia Our Reigns, more than just for yesterday.  He Reigns, today!'

It is my prayer for you, that you also, in 2017 will KNOW this truth and experience it as both a tangible and intangible reality in your own life.

Happy New Year!

Love Melanie.

Let me leave you with a song my eldest son loves...Planet Shakers, Nothing is Impossible!