Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Three reflections at Easter


I have generally put away childish things. I long to grow more deeply into the mind of Christ. This year has been one where I have connected on a personal level with many who are hurting and grappling with issues, sometimes from long times past.
The reality of Christ’s passion has struck me afresh. His disciple betrayed Him. His friends deserted and denied Him. He was stripped and mocked. He was beaten and tormented. He was whipped. He carried His cross, struggling under its crushing weight. His body was pierced with nails. He suffered an agonizing physical torture.
There was worse.
The gospels record that whilst Christ hung on the cross, darkness enveloped the land, which lasted for three hours. We don’t know what Christ experienced during that time, but one hypothesis is that Christ experienced every human sin and pain known to man, past, present and future. The Son of God knew the sorrow of a parent who has lost a child; felt the outrage of a rape victim; saw the horrors of Auschwitz. Only Jesus knows for sure.
There was worse.
At the end of this time Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” His Father, for the first time ever, had removed His presence from Jesus. Jesus, who had obeyed and honoured His Father, had paid the just price for our sin. If the wickedness of mankind was not enough to break the heart of our Saviour, the total separation from His Father completed the task.

Praise God, we know the final outcome. Death was replaced with life. Sin was defeated. A way was made for fallen humanity to return to right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. On the third day Christ rose again, revealed Himself to His disciples and many other witnesses and finally ascended to heaven to reign as King until He returns.

Thank You Jesus. Praise You Jesus. Words cannot express.


This has been a year of grappling with personal hurts and disappointments. I struggle at times to remain focused on God and to keep my heart from cynicism and bitterness.
Easter brings its own message in a fresh way this year. My son’s fiancĂ© makes a random comment which reveals a healing facet of the Passion story to me.
My daughter- in- law- to- be has never seen the film of The Passion of the Christ, so we sit together and watch it as a family. Afterwards she remarks on the cruelty of the guards who were whipping Jesus and how “they were laughing. They seemed to be enjoying it.”
Why would they do so? As I ponder, God begins to speak to me of the juxtaposition of two whippings.
John’s gospel, chapter 2, records a furious Jesus making a whip of cords to drive out the moneychangers who were profiteering in the temple courts in Jerusalem. Above all else in His earthly life, Jesus honoured His Father. He was jealous for the sanctity and reverence which should have been evident in the temple and would not tolerate any disrespectful behaviour. His authority to drive away the commercial vendors was immediately challenged by the temple officials.
Chapter 19 of John’s gospel records another whipping. This time it is Jesus who is lashed, scourged by Pilate’s soldiers. They relish their task. They have the sense of power of the sadist, that of being in control of an innocent victim. In the Passion film, the members of the Sanhedrin and the temple officials stand watching. You can almost sense the collaboration. The Romans are doing their dirty work for them. Their position is secure. The embarrassing, challenging interloper is removed. Business will resume as usual.
Praise God, we know the end of the story, beyond the cruelty of Christ’s suffering and death.
For the temple was not to remain the same. At the time of Christ’s death, a mighty earthquake shook the land and the curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two, from top to bottom. As he had prophesied at the time of cleansing the temple in John chapter 2, Jesus had told them “ Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”. He was speaking not of a building or system, but that which replaced them - Jesus Christ himself.
It was so. On the third day, Christ rose from the dead to reign forever as Lord.
So it can seem with the systemic evil which is found in the world today. We are sometimes discouraged and tempted to think that wickedness has triumphed. Bad behaviour is tolerated. There is no justice. Corruption and greed thrive. The institution of the church falls short, sometimes in great measure. Yet we know that this is not the end.
Christ has the last word. Christ has defeated sin and death. Christ is our heavenly intercessor.
Jesus Christ reigns forever as Lord and King. Praise God.



“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17,18 New International Version of the Bible)

Jesus was not compelled to go to the cross. He chose to. He did so first and foremost to honour and glorify and obey His Father’s will. He could have left the suffering humanity that mocked and despised him to its just end; however he chose to become sin, to bear the punishment for us, to be cast away from his Father. For the first time the unity of the Trinity was broken. Praise God, we know that Christ through this sacrifice forever defeated satan and his minions and established a new covenant between God and those who believe through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ is forever our heavenly intercessor. The temple veil was torn in two. “In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”(Ephesians 3:12 NIV).

Not only did Jesus choose the cross for His Father’s honour, He chose the cross because He loved us. John’s gospel is full of Jesus’ tenderness and care for his disciples, then and now. Chapter 10 describes him as the “good shepherd”. He cares for his sheep. He leads and guides them. He searches for the lost and rejoices when they are found. He tends the sick. He protects them. He calls them. He will defend them with his life.

Before He goes to the cross, Jesus comforts his disciples. He prays for those He was with at the time and prays for us today too, who would believe in Him through their message. (John chapter 17, from verse 20). He had already promised that He would not leave us alone when He had gone, but would send another comforter from His Father – the Holy Spirit. (John 14:15).

Even when he hung on the cross, Christ showed his concern and care for His mother, His friend John and for the repentant thief alongside Him.

Thank You Jesus, for the choices that You made.

We who follow You will never have to make the choices You did. We know that whatever happens to us, You will never leave us. We will never be as utterly alone as You were. Even when the Father left You, You never left us.

For a short time it seemed that Christ was gone forever. Then, Hallelujah! Jesus appeared to those who were mourning His loss. Just as He said He would.

For God himself has said “I will never leave you nor forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.

We too have choices. We can choose to have faith in Christ or reject Him. We can choose daily to walk in His will and His ways, or to do the selfish things that can seem so attractive. We war against our own flesh. As Christ chose His Father’s will, so ultimately we are required to choose His will before our own. Not always easy, but somewhere beyond the struggle we come to realise that what God offers is the best.


Friday, 23 March 2012

A meditation on Christ's passion

You drove them with a whip from the temple courts
Holy righteous One, in Your own holy anger
Those who defiled Your Father’s house, they were scattered
their goods and chattels strewn on the ground
Defending Your Father’s honour, You chased them out
while those who employed them and gained from their greed looked away
and the helpless, the poor, the lowly and meek
returned to the House of Prayer.

Did they watch You, those who were driven out
and the church officials, mourning their income lost,
as You stood accused, Holy blameless Lord?
Did they join their vengeful shouts to the call for Your death?
Did they mock You, the ones whose tables You overturned
as the lash fell on Your bloodied flesh?
Did  they plan their return to the temple? Did they cheer
as You trod the solitary road to Calvary?

“Father, forgive them.” It was for all Lord,
that you suffered and perished and bore the sin
from Eve to all eternity
You died for us in our sin
that we might come to You
Your church, Lord, do we sit in the courts at the tables
or kneel in your house of prayer?

©Josephine Collett Easter 2011

Good Friday

We know the end of the story Lord
Sunday on Good Friday
one of the reasons to call it Good

but You will bless those who remember in sorrow this day
who mourn
the rejected and despised
the downtrodden
the hurting ones
those who sit alone with heavy hearts

for they walk behind You all the way Lord
following You
like the women and John, who stayed
at the cross
in the terrible darkness

thank You Lord Jesus
for what You did on the cross
thank You that even when the Father left You
You never left us

Lord we know
that You are with us all our days
You comfort and sustain us
and are ever faithful
You love us with the greatest love
for You gave Your life for ours.

Thank you Jesus.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Friday to Sunday






Eternal life

copyright Josephine Collett 2011

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Green Spaces

We create green spaces in our cities
Every metropolis holds them
Amid the corridors of steel encrusted concrete
The asphalt arteries choked with a detritus of traffic
On every chequerboard map of gridlocked byways
They rise, green patches of beckoning solitude
islands of cool content in a sea of populace
Green spaces to remind us
Of something more elemental, a genesis
We touch feet to cool grasses and hands to the burgeoning earth
And savour, as Adam, the nectar of blossom

Lord, the mind too needs its green spaces
Places of rest between its twisted canyons
Its shifting busyness, its restless thoughts
Tossed like driftwood on an a wild-crested ocean
The mind needs its safe haven, its refuge
Bring Thou to me my quietude, my Saviour
Creator of breezes and birdsong,
Be my comfort and contemplation
Be my company and inspiration
Lord, as I dwell in green spaces.


Copyright Josephine Collett 24/2/2011

Construction Project

The home where I live is located in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. It's a two storey, brick dwelling with a tile roof. I know that it was built in 1974, because that's the date given on the paperwork for the sale of the house when we purchased it. I know when it was built, but I don't know how it was constructed. I wasn't around to see it take shape. There are a couple of possibilities.
One theory that I have devised myself is that in 1974 there may have been a massive explosion at the at Alderley brickworks, resulting in an outpouring of bricks from the chimney which was very visible on the skyline at that time. Simulataneously, there may have been an explosion at the Darra Cement Works which resulted in cement dust being released into the atmosphere. All it would then require would be for a gigantic cyclone to be travelling down the Queensland coast, which would lift the bricks and perhaps a few pallets of tiles and transport them across to my suburb, mixing the cement dust with rain on the way and depositing them in a house-shaped formation where I now live. That's my theory. Joism.
Another explanation could be that somebody had a vision for a house that they would like to build. They purchased a block of land. They had an architect draw detailed house plans. They engaged a builder who procured the materials and supervised a team of skilled workers to construct my home. It was not a random accident but a purposeful choice.
What are the odds for or against each theory?
My house. A butterfly wing. Coral spawning. The cycle of the seasons. The patterns of leaves on a single tree branch. Random or designed?
Your existence?                                  


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Unique relationship

I used to struggle with the fact that Jesus loves everyone. Now I understand that I have a special, personal relationship with Him alone, one that is just between the two of us. In the same way that I love both of my children intensely and equally, I have a special relationship with each, independently of each other. We also have family bonds. So it is with Christ. The God of the universe is by far big enough to accommodate a personal relationship with each individual. He sees every tiny sparrow, let alone His children. It is part of His unfathomable greatness that God can be attentive to every person on this earth all together, in groups such as a church service or homegroup meeting or to one person seeking Him in prayer or meditation. I sometimes sit quietly, imagining Jesus' arms around me, knowing that He has special love for me, His creation, that is just for me alone. I don't deserve this gift, but I know that He gives because He loves to do so. I am overawed with gratitude and humility. Praise Him

Sunday, 11 March 2012


In the journey of our lives, sometimes the path unexpectedly winds through the darkest forest. The way ahead is shrouded, we may stray into unknown territory, onto twisting and unfamiliar paths, into deeper and more unfathomable depths. Wild animals bay in the darkness and we fear we will be torn apart. A dense canopy blocks out the sunshine that we formerly enjoyed. We realise there can be no returning to the comfort of the place from which we have come.

Yet God provides His guidance. His strength is sufficient when our own fails. His Spirit encourages our steps. He goes before us and makes a way where there is no way. He guides us onto a path which will lead again to light and freshness and peace.

Many who leave the dark woods will journey again in a new land. Yet there are some who, having been led through the dark woods, return again and again. They know the territory. This time God leads them to walk, unafraid, alongside those who are still lost and struggling, to befriend and help them as they travel together into the light.

They are the foresters.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Thoughts on The Shack

About eighteen months ago I read William P. Young’s novel, The Shack. My purpose in doing so was that if the library book proved useful, I would buy a copy as a gift for  my unsaved sister who is very attracted to new age philosophies, in the hope that this book might lead her to faith in Jesus Christ.

I will never purchase this book or recommend it to anyone. On the contrary I think it is at best a very poorly written novel, at worst, dangerous heresy.

As an avid reader and lover of great literature, from a purely literary point of view, I found this book to be poorly structured with a plot that does not develop and characters that are introduced in the first few chapters for no apparent reason. The book was neither edited nor published by a reputable publisher, Christian or otherwise.

As a writer, I am always concerned about writing truthfully and writing work which will have a positive influence in the world. As a Christian writer, I seek to glorify God in all I do, and particularly in what I write. I’ve been involved in writing groups and websites for over thirty years and enjoyed many stimulating conversations regarding not only how to write, but what to write about. “Write about what you know“ is an old adage. Whilst I respect the freedom of other writers to select their subject matter, I found it difficult to appreciate a best-seller that has at its heart the fictionalised murder of a young girl. There are many inspiring non-fiction accounts of actual families that have experienced shocking tragedies. The symbolism in this case is something you would not wish on your worst enemy.

The Shack is a novel which relies heavily on Christian theology. In a similar manner to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, it has attracted a cult following which belies its literary worth. Like Brown’s work, when inaccuracies in the story which do not adhere to scripture are pointed out, its proponents are quick to scream out “it’s just a story!” Yet it is a story which seeks to explain the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus Christ His only Son, and the Holy Spirit. It also seeks to explain why a good God allows suffering.

If you want to know about the Trinity, read the Bible. If you want to know why a good God allows suffering, it’s in the story of Creation, Sin, human choices and Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. It’s all there. Every Christian bookstore has a plethora of Bibles, commentaries and guides and there are multitudes of Christian websites.

In the Bible we are warned not to add to or take away from scripture (Revelation 2:19), yet here we have a mere human devising his own descriptions of God, depicting two members of the Godhead as women, and putting his own words into their mouths.

According to the Bible, there is one and only one way to right relationship with God. That is through the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). Christ is not a way to God, He is the only way.

Biblically, God the Father has authority over Christ the Son, as Jesus states in the gospels that He obeys His Father. eg Hebrews 10:7, John 14:31. The Father has knowledge unknown to His Son eg. Matthew 24:36. There is authority within the Trinity and there is certainly authority of all members of the Trinity over fallen humanity. We are redeemed through faith and by God’s grace, but we are fallen humans living in this world and owe God all honour and glory that is His due.

Throughout the Bible, those to whom God reveals Himself most clearly are overcome with awe at his holiness and shame of their sin eg. Isaiah’s majestic vision of the Lord on his throne is followed by his shame of his unclean mouth and God’s forgiveness (Isaiah 6). Similarly Peter witnesses a miraculous catch of fish, and realises his own human sinfulness compared to God’s great love and majesty, and falls at Jesus’ feet.

Biblically, the church, that is the body of believers in the world who have given their lives to God by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is known in scripture as ‘the bride of Christ.” The church was established by Jesus to be a witness to an unsaved world. We are instructed not to fall away from meeting together. (Hebrews 10:25) Yes, the church as an institution falls short many times. Many have been severely hurt and disillusioned by “church” people. Yet God loves his church and we have the responsibility as Christians to be part of a body that encourages others, worships corporately and teaches and learns together.

“All scripture is given by the inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). We are warned that there are those who will teach false doctrine. The devil himself, when tempting Adam and Eve and when tempting Jesus, distorted scripture. We are warned that there will false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing, but who inwardly are ravaging wolves. (Matthew 7:15). A litmus test for the truth of witness is one that unashamedly proclaims the Gospel as given in the Bible and gives all glory and honour to God. Many Christian writers and artists include a dedication to God giving Him the glory on their work and websites; also many Christian websites offer a statement of what they believe.

The Gospel includes grace, forgiveness, love and relationships. It also includes the less palatable aspects of repentance, sacrifice, responsibility, suffering, obedience. Jesus, the Son of God, paid an incredibly high price in obedience, honour, suffering and abandonment on the Cross. Our justification is just one aspect of His death. We owe it to Him to hold what He did in the highest honour. Words cannot express.

It’s an old adage that bank tellers are quick to spot a forged note, not because they are highly trained in spotting forged notes, but because they handle the real thing all day long. Know God. Know Him through His living word, the Bible. Know Him through prayer. Know Him through Christian fellowship in a caring church. Know Him through the indwelling Holy Spirit which Father sent at Pentecost to be His witness in the world today. Know Him through Christian resource materials which honour Him and the gospel of the Bible as they seek to make His message widely known. May God give you wisdom and discernment as you seek an ever deepening relationship with Him.

Some useful links
Deceived by a Counterfeit Jesus: the twisted truths of The Shack and A Course in Miracles  by Berit Kjos

Mark Driscoll discusses “The Shack”

Consider the content on the Shack website

What is the gospel journey message?

The Thread

Never be reluctant to seek out your own resources on the internet and elsewhere and consider prayerfully many different points of view in order to form your own opinion on a subject.

Friday, 2 March 2012

A Wedding

"Come again soon, Lord Jesus" we say. We long for You.
At weddings, the groom is waiting, expectantly anticipating the arrival of his bride. We rejoice in his look of wonder, of joy, of love as his bride appears.
The Bible tells us that the body of God's people, the church, is the bride of Jesus. He is waiting. Are we ready? Is the bride preparing herself? He has given us our wedding gifts. We can only be clothed in spotless garments because of the price paid by Jesus as he died for our sins on the cross. We are bedecked with his jewels of grace and forgiveness. The face that he wants to see as we approach Him is one expressing our true humility and awe of the knowledge that He loves and cares for us so much.
A bridegroom wants a wife who loves him for who he is, for the wonderful, deepening relationship that they share together. Are we adorning ourselves with our love and commitment and obedience to him? Are our hearts truly devoted to him?
"Come again soon, Lord Jesus." He wants His bride to be ready to come to Him.

Flowing water

The spirit of the Lord
is like water, flowing, finding
its own level
It will not be blocked without
renewing itself again
forming another channel
It will permeate
the dry and thorny ground
the famished earth
and seep to depths of joy
and flood the land
with birth

copyright Josephine Collett 2012