Motivation

Don’t Disqualify Yourself from the Good Life

16 April, 2015
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Swimming is a popular sport in Australia. Our weather and amazing coastline mean children are taught to swim as toddlers.

For those who wish to become elite, the road to swimming glory is not easy. Early morning training sessions, long black line lap after lap, no sound, no companions – a lonely sport.

Swimmers train day in day out for the ultimate glory – Olympic gold. They push the limits to make the team, heats, and final, giving their all in a chance for gold.

At the last Olympic Games in London, there was a massive upset in the pool. South Korean 400m swimmer, Park Tae-hwan, was disqualified by a referee in his heat for a false start. With that decision he was disqualified from the chance of defending his Olympic title; disqualified from the elation of another Olympic gold medal. Four years of sacrifice, pain and hard work snatched from his grasp.

After much deliberation it was found that Park Tae-hwan did not false start. The referee’s decision was overruled and he was able to swim the final that evening.

Like FINA, God is in the business of overruling disqualifications. Because of Jesus, you are not disqualified from the pleasures of life. As His child you are entitled to live life to the full.

Genesis 18:12 So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

Sarah was almost ninety and barren. She had not experienced the pleasure of raising a child. When El Shaddai told her husband she would give birth to a child she felt age disqualified her from experiencing such pleasure.

Age did not disqualify Sarah from experiencing pleasure; she gave birth to a son, Isaac. And age does not disqualify you. [FYI: I published an article on Crosswalk about my recent milestone of turning forty. I talk about age stereotypes, and what the Bible has to say. I think you’ll like it.]

You may be comfortable with your age, but perhaps other matters hold you back. Do sins of the past, divorce, sickness or family history disqualify you from an amazing life?

They do not.

Divorce does not disqualify you from the pleasure of a good second marriage. 

Diagnosed depression does not disqualify you from a happy life. 

Mistakes from the past do not disqualify you from experiencing the life God designed. 

Transgressions of your family do not disqualify you from future blessing.

Jesus bore the sin; you don’t have to. Release it. Father created you to experience pleasure. There are greater promises and pleasures for you. God has blessing, not sorrow, in store (Proverbs 10:22). A life lived with Him is loaded with benefits (Psalm 103:2). His love and mercy have no expiry date (Psalm 136:1).

You did not false start. You did not drop the baton. The Cross overruled your disqualification. Don’t disqualify yourself. Experience His pleasure. Because of Jesus, you deserve it.

Lifestyle

Is Pleasure a Sin?

9 April, 2015
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Let’s talk about food.

Chocolate.

Cheesecake.

Pizza.

Sushi.

Roast.

Ice cream.

I don’t know about you, but I’m salivating. 

Have you eaten a meal with a bad cold? A really bad cold? Where your nose is red, eyes are swollen and tastebuds have taken a hike? Feasting on a meal isn’t the same is it? Who feels like eating when you can’t taste anything?

I guess that’s how Sarah Mae was feeling over at (in)courage. For Sarah, a cold put a temporary end to the wonder of food and she wrote a blog post about it. She said:

Through my experience, I realized that food is not a gift. The taste of food is the gift, and the pleasure we receive from it.

It got me thinking.

We need food to live. But we don’t need it to be tasty. So why did God gift us with a sense of taste?

Because He wants humans to experience pleasure.

Humans don’t need the sense of taste. We could survive without it. But life would be bland. In this simple and unnoticeable way, God demonstrated He designed us for pleasure – ours and His.

Now I’m going to write something radical: God wants you to feel pleasure.

Don’t look sideways, blush and close your laptop. He does. He wants you to feel pleasure. If He didn’t He would not have created the sense of taste.

Pleasure is not sinful. Sometimes Christians believe pleasure to be sin, so they shy away from it and settle for a dull and boring life. Pleasure is from God. It is good. You are allowed to feel it. Several times a day. Even all the time.

Life can be overwhelming and sometimes it just plain stinks – like the head cold from hell. But just because you have temporarily lost your sense of taste, does not mean God has changed and pleasure vanished. He is still good. He has blessings for you. He wants you to feel pleasure.

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that these pleasures are from the hand of God. For who can eat or enjoy anything apart from him? 

Enjoy life. Pleasure is from the hand of God. Feel it. Embrace it. Do something you enjoy. Go shopping. Eat ice cream. Dance the night away. Pleasure is not wrong. Because when you experience pleasure, you experience it with Him. Now that’s a beautiful revelation.

Pleasure; it’s what you were created for. Experience it.

Holiday

He is Alive – Mark 16:1-7

1 April, 2015
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The first gleams of morning broke on the horizon, promising a glorious day. But it was not a good day. It was the worst day of my life. 

Numb. I was numb. I had felt numb for the past three days; living in a kind of daze; waiting for the nightmare to end.

A little over a week ago Jerusalem joined in a parade, welcoming Jesus as king. “Hosanna,” we sang, and threw our coats across the path for Him. I walked on clouds that day. Change was in the air. 

Then came betrayal by our own. And lies. So many lies. Within hours He was trailed and sentenced to death on a cross. I was dumbfounded. How could someone who knew no wrong, face punishment for the most heinous crime? There was no justice; only cruelty, perversion and violence.

They crucified Him. The body Mary cherished enough to break open her costly perfume, was nailed to a cross. Soldiers pierced His skin and dislocated joints in excruciating pain. He bore it. He bore it all. As if there was purpose in the suffering. 

There were times I looked away. Others ran away. He deserved better than that. So I stayed. For six hours of death.

But was it my sense of loyalty, or because there was no where else to go?

“Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life,” Peter said. It was true. Where would I go now?

The sky turned dark and I stayed. The soldiers mocked and gambled over His clothing, and I stayed. I stayed until He cried, “It is finished.”

And it was. Finished for me. 

Downcast and defeated we removed His body. Lifeless, Joseph lay Him in the tomb. Jesus was dead. Never to heal. Never to love. Never to give. Again.

In one last act of honour I was returning that Sunday morning with spices and burial cloths. We were few and walked in silence; no one willing to shatter the somber tone of our final memory – preparing Rabboni for burial.

“What will we do about the stone?” the whispered voice of Joanna interrupted my thoughts.

I shrugged. Mary would know. She always knew what to do.

The chill in the air matched the chill in my heart. It was spring. There were blossoms on the trees. New life was thriving.

And I was dying.

We arrived at the outskirts of the garden and trudged forward in single file. 

In the dim morning light I caught a glimpse of the tomb. But things were not as I remembered them. Something was different; the garden deserted.

Bottles of perfume shattered on the rocks, their beautiful aroma infusing the air, but wasted. Who could be so clumsy to squander her offering for our Master? As I stepped into the clearing I saw it was Mary, staring with hands over her mouth; transfixed.

The stone was rolled away.

My heart began to race. I felt light-headed. Intoxicated by the strong fragrance or circumstance before me – I did not know.

Out of the corner of my eye I shot a glance at Mary. There was hope in her eyes. I knew what she was thinking.

Could she be right?

“I’m going in,” I said, surprised by the loudness of my own voice.

Mary’s arm shot to my chest. “No, let me,” she offered. I nodded but followed two paces behind.

With trepidation we ventured into the land of the dead and I prepared myself for the stench.

But there was no stench. There was no body. Mary reached for my hand and I saw them – angels gleaming in all His glory.

We stood motionless; breath caught in our mouths.

As if he knew our thoughts the angel responded,

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!”

The world spun around me. Could this be happening? Was I hallucinating in my grief? I looked to Mary. She heard it too. Her tear stained face showed soft laughter marks.

Jesus is alive. 

Mary smiled and light returned in her eyes, as I am sure it did mine.

“Now go and tell His disciples including Peter.” 

Then they disappeared. 

But we lingered. 

Because that was the moment. The moment I would remember all my life. The morning when death was beaten. The morning when I truly believed.

I had no hesitation. There was no other explanation. He is alive. All my doubts, my questions suddenly did not matter. It was a new day and I had good news. Better than everyone He healed. Better than the miracles He performed. 

Jesus is the Christ. It was a new beginning for me. A new beginning for us all. 


[FYI, the photo was taken of my husband and me at the Garden Tomb in Jersualem, 2008.]

Faith

Set Yourself Free (Part Three)

26 March, 2015
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Exodus 6:6 …I am the Lord. I will free you…

Have you given yourself permission to be free by believing in the finished work of the Cross?

The Lord set the children of Israel free from the torment of Pharoah, but they could not shake the mindset of a slave. Something always held them back.

It was discouragement.

Exodus 6:9 So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.

You prayed but didn’t get healed. You believed God, but somehow things didn’t turn out the way you planned. And discouragement crept in. Doubt overtook your mind. And before you knew it, you were wandering in the wilderness going nowhere; feeling like a slave to circumstance; slave to the world.

There are some things in life you go out of our way to avoid – anger, lying, gambling, adultery. You know such sins will destroy you. But discouragement – you don’t go out of your way to avoid discouragement. 

Perhaps you should.

Because it killed a generation. 

The children of Israel died in the wilderness because they could not let go of discouragement. 

Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

When the Lord spoke to a new generation He commanded them not to be discouraged because discouragement stopped their parents from taking the Promised Land. Discouragement will stop you from possessing all the promises God has for your life. Discouragement will stop you from being brave enough to believe in the freedom of life in Christ. 

If you want to be free – really free – you’ve got to be free of discouragement.

Here’s how:

Psalm 42:11 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! 

You’ve got to praise Him again. Praise until you are not discouraged. Praise until you believe. Believe and you will be free.

God has done all He can. Your freedom has been paid. 

Believe yourself out of discouragement. And as you do, you will step into freedom.

Faith

Set Yourself Free (Part Two)

19 March, 2015
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Revelation 1:5b All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 

For four hundred years the Israelites were exploited by cruel leaders in Egypt. But because of the death of every first born son, they were set free.

For thousands of years God’s very own creation – those He formed in His likeness – were slaves to sin and death. But because of the death of His only Son, we were set free. Done. Finished. Freedom has been paid for in full.

Galatians 5:1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. 

The children of Israel did it – the Most High set them free, yet they never let them selves go. The Galatians did it – set free through the blood of Christ, yet somehow they wound up slaves to the law again.

You are free. Now stay free.

But how?

Galatians 3:22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ. 

Believe. If you want to stay free all you have to do is believe.


First, believe that the blood paid for your freedom in full. Then believe the Bible more than you believe the television. More than you believe your neighbour. More than you believe your boss. More than you believe the doctor. 

You receive freedom only by believing. You lose freedom by not believing, doubting and worrying. 

The problem with the children of Israel was they did not believe. And they lost their freedom.

Next week, I’ll show you why.

In the meantime, believe. The promise of freedom comes by believing. It’s all you have to do. You may as well get good at it.

Believe. Only believe.