Faith

10 Scriptures for When You Feel Like a Failure

13 August, 2015
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It happens to us all

Proverbs 24:16 The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. 

The Lord holds your hand

Psalm 37:23-24 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. 

The answer is Jesus

Romans 7:15, 24-25a I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate… Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. 

There is no condemnation 

Romans 8:1-2 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 

You are forgiven

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 

His grace is all you need

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

The Lord is your strength

Psalm 73:26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 

There is fresh mercy

Lamentations 3:22-23 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 

Forget the past

Philippians 3:13-14 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. 

I’m praying for you. As always, email or comment if this meant something to you.

Grace, His love

Epic #mumfail

6 August, 2015
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1 Timothy 1:15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 

Paul wrote that. You know Paul – they guy who penned half the New Testament. The man whose writings proclaim the grace and mercy of the Cross. That Paul. 

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t call Paul the worst of sinners. Sure he murdered Christians, but that was BC, and covered by the Blood. Why would Paul proclaim himself to be the worst of all sinners? I mean, I wouldn’t proclaim myself to be the worst of all sinners. I have always been a good girl born with a huge conscience. I turn myself in just for thinking of doing something bad. So do I think of myself as the worst of all sinners? No.

But the worst mother in the world? No wait, the most epic of #mumfails (yes it is a trending hashtag) of all the mothers in the world? Would I call myself that? (Sorry? You’re telling me you hold the title?)
Yes. Yes I would.
Because as a mother, I make mistakes. I have bad days. Some worse than others.

When you are pregnant well-meaning people tell you motherhood comes naturally. That when you hold your baby in your arms you are naturally are overwhelmed with love, the mothering gene you were born with comes to the fore, and in that blissful moment, you are a mother.

I disagree (and for those of you who never had those feelings and live with the guilt they bring, this is a game changer). 
Motherhood does not come naturally. It is learnt. There are no schools of motherhood, no subjects at school like motherhood 101. Motherhood is learnt the same way you learn most things: from others. Other mothers. Your own mother. People. Books. The Internet (this blog post😀). But most of motherhood you learn yourself through your kids; successes and mistakes. 

Mostly through your mistakes. 

And as a mother you are learning all the time. At home. In the bedroom. In the yard. At the park. In the shopping centre (or mall, as some might say). In front of thousands of people. Before cameras and lights for all the world to see.

So let me come back to Paul. Paul declared himself the worst of all sinners. Was this because he had a secret sin problem? Had he not dealt with the guilt of his past? 

Paul called himself the worst of sinners because the longer he lived, the more he realised his need for Christ.
Take a moment to let that sink in.

So here is what I offer to all the women who think they are epic #mumfails. Next time you are having a major “I am an epic #mumfail” moment: think of Paul. Think of the worst of sinners. And recognise your need for Christ.
No one has arrived. We are all learning. Mothers are on a journey. And in the journey of motherhood you need Jesus.

Mark 10:14 He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 

Jesus was not a mother but He loved children. First and foremost, you, beautiful mother, are His child. He beckons you, daughter. He beckons you with open arms. You are not alone in this. He loves you. Your children are not scarred for life. If you listen, He will whisper the rhythm of your child’s heart and teach you how to be her mother. 

It’s okay to need Jesus. Paul needed Jesus. Without Christ he was the worst of sinners. Without Jesus I lose it as a mother – most epic of all #mumfails. 

But there is no place I’d rather be.
So what if I am an epic #mumfail. I lean into Jesus and find all I need.


Lifestyle

4 Keys to a Lifestyle of Giving

30 July, 2015
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Handbag over one shoulder, three-year-old on the other hip, I gazed at the admission prices for the zoo – Taronga Zoo – probably the most beautiful zoo in the world with to-die-for views of Sydney Harbour. It was a crisp winters morning with clear blue sky. A great day for walking the kids through giraffes, penguins and big cats.

 

My husband was leading us toward the ticket booth when a man approached. Ben had seen him following our family from the bus. The stranger held out his hand and said, “I have two free child admission tickets to the zoo. Would you like them?”

 
I began to explain that our youngest son was under four and would receive free admission anyway. “I just read it on the sign over there,” I pointed.

 
He didn’t seem to hear me and continued, “I came all the way here today to give these tickets away.

 
I stopped talking. The weight of his words slowly sinking in.
“Yes. Thank you so much. You are very kind.”

 
And with that the stranger handed us the tickets and disappeared. He slipped into the crowd of passers by, most of whom were making their way into the zoo, but he wandered the other way.

 
And we stood in stunned silence for a few moments attempting to grasp what happened.

 
Mark 12:41 opens with Jesus sitting near the collection box in the Temple. I am sure many wealthy people paraded their offerings in grandiose style. Though Jesus observed many lavish displays, the one that caught His attention was two small coins from a poor widow. 


Mark 12:43-44 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

 

That day at Taronga zoo, I felt like Jesus. I felt like I observed a poor man who had very little, but somehow he knew the power of giving. He knew if he gave what he had, God would give back to him. So he went out of his way, got on a bus and came to the zoo. To give.
From this seemingly meaningless encounter, I have learnt a few things:
1. There is no such thing as a random act of kindness. 
They were very “in” a few years ago. Society implored us to do more random acts of kindness. But kindness is not random. It is intentional. Human nature is selfish. So kindness has to be planned. Sure, you will be randomly kind from time to time, but if you wait for the urge to be kind, you won’t be kind all that often.
Planning to be kind will be inconvenient. You might have to take a day off work – without pay – to be kind. You may have to drive for an hour to pick someone up and bring him to church. You may have to get on a bus with a couple of free tickets and hand them to strangers. But it will not happen randomly. Kindness takes planning.
2. You always have something to give. 
You may think you have nothing to give. But you do. 

 

You may even have a couple of free vouchers sitting around your house that you will never use.
But someone else will.
Someone would be very thankful for them.
Give.



It may not be convenient to give. You will have to approach a stranger. You will have to drive out of your ordinary route or hop on a bus. But go out of your way and bless someone else. Because you always have something to give.

3. When you give, Jesus makes note. 
He especially makes note of sacrificial, out of the ordinary giving. Even if it is small. Even if you think it is insignificant. It does not escape Jesus’ notice. He sees what you do and faith says He rewards those who seek Him.

4. There is a Bigger Picture.
Since that day at the zoo I think about our stranger often. I think about his go-out-of-the-way kindness. And you know what I do?
I pray for him.
I pray blessing upon him.
I have done so every day since our encounter.
I don’t know the end of the story for the man who blessed us at Taronga, like we don’t know the end of the story for the widow. But I know Jesus. And I know His heart. If my heart was moved by a free ticket to the zoo, Jesus is moved by every offering.
And He will provide.
Blessing. Favour. Provision. Debt cancelation. More.
He blesses your offering.
And he has blessed the man who went out of his way to give us free tickets.
Bless you, kind sir. God bless you.

Faith

The Widow’s Offering – a Fictional Account

23 July, 2015
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It was a cold night in Jerusalem. Eliana wrapped her shawl a little tighter across her chest. It was less than a month after Sukkot. If this was a sign of things to come it would be a cold winter. Eliana shuddered to think whether she would survive. Her stomach grumbled, as if to agree with her mind’s conclusion. She had nothing to eat tonight. She had no money to pay for food.

But the joy of the afternoon kept Eliana full to overflowing. She was so thankful to the Lord for His blessings. His leading to the temple allowed her to glimpse of her child and grandchild. Though Daniel may deny her existence, the Lord faithfully brought her in proximity of her grandchild.

Eliana walked briskly toward her home outside Jerusalem’s walls. There was no wood or kindling for a fire tonight. Perhaps clouds would blanket the city and the temperature would not dip so low.

She hummed a song of praise, still jubilant as she recalled the beauty of her granddaughter. She was growing into a stunning young woman. And most importantly, a woman with a heart for God. For all her father’s faults and selfishness, Miriam was pure and untainted. Her piercing eyes portrayed grace and sincerity.

Shortness of breath set in as Eliana made her way up the steep slope toward her home. As she spied her dwelling she could not help but think of the abode she was more acquainted to. She recalled the lavish home she shared with her husband. The home where her son lived with his family. The son who stole her inheritance. And while he frequented the Temple robed in finery, she stumbled through Solomon’s courts in poverty.

The wind ripped through her clothing and chilled Eliana to the bone. She hoped tomorrow she would find work in the household of Saul. He often felt pity for Eliana and found chores she could handle. He would often send her home with fire wood and a hearty meal in her stomach. Yes, it was his home she would look to when daylight broke.

Eliana made her way to the door. She pushed it open and saw movement in the shadows. It was then she noticed a figure sitting nearby.

“Can I help you?” Eliana uttered. Though with limited means, she was always quick to help.

“Eliana wife of Joseph?” The hooded man asked.

Eliana had not been called the wife of Joseph for many years. When he ceased to exist, it was though she did as well.

“Yes,” she remarked. “That is my name.”

“You were at the Temple earlier today, were you not?”

Eliana wondered where this line of questioning was going? Was he a messenger from Daniel, sent to threaten her for being so close to his daughter?

“Yes, I was. I went to praise my God for His goodness.”

“And this is your house?”

Eliana took a moment to reply.

“I would like to know your name and who has sent you before I answer further questions.” Eliana had been hurt by freely giving too much information before. She now knew never to trust anyone, even your own son.

“Forgive me, Eliana. I mean no harm,” the man announced as he removed the hood from his head allowing his face to be seen. Eliana did not let her guard down too fast.

“I have been sent by a man. Some call him Rabbi. He is my,” the man paused and stroked his beard searching for the right word, “friend. He is my friend and teacher. My name is Judas. I have come with a gift. May I come in?”

Eliana hesitated. She still knew nothing of this man or his friend. And her home rarely welcomed visitors. It was not fitted for the occasion. Nor could she offer warmth. It was then she noticed Judas’ makeshift seat was a pile of firewood. Enough to see her through several evenings.

“I’ll build a fire and explain everything,” he promised.

So at her beckoning, Judas followed Eliana inside a hole in the side of a hill she called home. The cave was once a tomb for the family who owned the land – a family who once served her husband. They felt pity on her situation and allowed her the grace of living in the space. They knew she would pass on to another life before they had need of it.

Judas made a fire and while still small, its warmth was felt in her small living space.

Judas unwrapped a loaf and bread and offered it to Eliana. She broke off a small piece and chewed with caution. It melted with her first bite. She had not eaten bread as fresh for a long time.

Judas cleared his throat and began. “I am sent here tonight with a gift. My friend noticed you in the Temple today and asked me to bring the gift to you in the cover of darkness. He does not wish for acknowledgement or thanks for His gift. His agenda is to bring a faithful servant of the Most High justice and happiness.
Eliana wondered at Judas’ words. Whatever could they mean?

“Your gift comes in three parts. First there is this,” and Judas handed her a deed for land.

Eliana gasped.

“The land is not far from here. It has a home and small garden. I will take you there tomorrow.”

Judas paused, aware Eliana needed space to comprehend what was happening.

“It is not as grand as the home you used to occupy, I am told, but it is adequate.”

Staring in disbelief, Eliana nodded.

“The next gift is a servant who will work for you until she is no longer needed. Her wages and accommodation are taken care of. And finally, there is this.” Judas unwrapped a flask of perfume. She knew the bottle. Knew where the fragrance originated. She was well aware of its worth. A half year’s wages.

But more than that. Livelihood.

Eliana could sell the perfume and turn it into a business that would enable her to live comfortably for the rest of her life. As the wife of a merchant she knew how to generate an income. All she needed was a start.

Tears spilled from her eyes. Who would do this? How could a stranger be so generous when her friends and family turned their backs? Who was this man?

Wiping the tears from her face she responded, “I am overwhelmed. This is too much. Who would do this for me?”

“My friend has a rare quality. He sees the heart of a person like no other. He has seen your heart. He knows your injustice. He saw you at the Temple today. He saw you give all you had. We all did. And it touched His heart. He is making it right.

Eliana thought back to her afternoon in the Temple. All she could remember was the angelic face of her granddaughter.

“Where can I find your friend and Rabbi? I would like to thank Him.”

“He asks that you keep this gesture quiet. I will not speak of it to a soul as long as I live. This is how my Rabbi does things. Let me assure you, Rabbi knows your heart. He has received your thanks. I will return in the morning to show you to your new residence and to assist you with whatever you require. I leave you to rest. We have much to do in the morning.”

Judas ducked his head and retreated into the cool night.

But for the first time in a long time, Eliana was warm. Inside and out.

Based on Mark 12:38-44 and John 13:29.

Books

Essential Summer (or Winter) Reading

16 July, 2015
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It all started with a book you know. Before I wrote a weekly blog I wrote books. I wrote two books before blogging was a thing and got on the blog bandwagon after the fact. I mean, as an author, you should have a blog, right?

There are probably many of you who read my blog yet have never read my books. And you should. Because if you like the blog, you’ll love the books. And if they don’t fit your current situation, you probably know someone who would benefit from them.

All my books are for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and more. You can buy a book yourself or gift one for a friend, so there are no excuses!

Here’s a rundown of the books by Sarah Coleman thus far.

Single Christian Female: the book that started it all. What you’ll read is an honest and open look at what it means to follow God even when things don’t appear to be turning out the way you planned. And of course, there is a happily ever after (written eight years later).

Make Yourself Amazing will challenge you to grow in character and how you love others. If you need motivation and advise on how to be a better you, Make Yourself Amazing is he book to read.

Expecting Daily Pregnancy Devotion is the book I went looking for when I was pregnant yet couldn’t find. So I did what every writer would do – I wrote it. Expecting is 280 days of faith and hope for your baby. Whether you worry about your baby or struggle with infertility, this book is for you.

Unveiled: What the Bible says about Women is a collection of essays explaining what the Bible really says about women. It’s a quick, cheap read at just 99c.

What next? I’m glad you asked. I’m working on the sequel to Single Christian Female, Married Christian Female. While the world is looking to redefine marriage, I chronicle my journey as a Bible-believing wife. It will be released later this year and I’ll be looking for your help in getting the word out about it. I can’t wait!

So happy summer to those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, and blessed reading.

Motivation

Bieber, Jesus and Me

9 July, 2015
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Australian media were dumbfounded. Why would Justin Bieber fly all the way to Australia to attend church? Why didn’t he perform? Wasn’t his presence a big deal? It wasn’t.
Because some 30,000 people were not coming to see a celebrity, we were interested in the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords. We came to meet with Jesus. 

Who cares about Justin Bieber when the presence of God fills the room?

And it did, last week at Hillsong Conference.

In a previous post I wrote that I would attempt to post sermon notes from sessions at Hillsong if the schedule wasn’t too demanding. Well, it was. And posting to my blog at conference was just too crazy in between running after the family and trying to digest it all.

But I have come good on my promises. I posted session notes – a week late – from three of my favourite sessions with John Maxwell, Rick Warren and Carl Lentz a little earlier in the week. You can read them below. The sessions were inspirational. I hope you understand my notes.

The theme for the conference was Speak, God; we’re listening. The overall message God spoke throughout the conference was urgency to reach the lost. I was challenged to strategically work my unsaved list and drop God-thoughts in daily conversations with others. 

Today I leave you with some of my favourite quotes from other sessions. Chris Caine, Judah Smith and Jentezen Franklin were all incredible.

The Great Commission is for everyone not just the navy seals of the church. – Christine Caine

I can not stop bad people from doing bad things, but I can inspire good people to do more good things. – Christine Caine

We live in an age of non-stop noise. Do you get quiet enough to hear God? We Facebook more than we seek His face. We txt more than we study the text. Do you disconnect from the weapons of mass distraction long enough? – Jentezen Franklin

Hope you enjoyed my snapshot of Hillsong Conference. I’ll be back to the regular blog next week.

[Photo is Martin Smith singing “God’s Great Dance Floor.” It was amazing.]

Motivation

Hillsong Conference Notes – Carl Lentz

8 July, 2015
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God is not a God of behaviour modification but soul transformation.
How is your soul?3 John 1:1-11
We all long in our soul for peace and fulfilment.Our world has no idea how to find this peace.

It can be wrong in the world but well in your soul. Sick in body, but well in your soul. We cannot avoid the condition of our soul. Our society is designed to distract people from the condition of their soul.
Three things that happen when it is well with your soul.

1. We change the environment, the environment does not change us.

If you don’t know what you stand for the world will tell you.

Do not acclimate to dysfunction.

We need to be different. Protect your soul. 

Negativity, criticism, we stop caring about what we should and start caring about what we shouldn’t. 
2. You give God the benefit of the doubt.

Unhealthy souls are waiting to be wounded.

“I pray all may go well with you.”

Waiting for God to bless your life, or are you waiting to be hurt?

I still want to be shocked by negative news.

Be conscious of the theme of your soul because it will become the theme of your life.

I want to know what God can do with my soul.
 3. They get help when hurting.

Unhealthy souls try to do it on their own.

If you have a need, you should be needing Jesus. The more broken you are, the more you need Jesus.

The longer you walk with Jesus the more you should realise your need for Him.

I can’t breathe without Jesus.