Wednesday, 27 April 2016


At the moment I’m involved in a small group study of the book of Romans, a challenging and exciting book if ever there was one. One feature of this book is the number of questions that it contains. Paul often asks a seemingly rhetorical question, then proceeds to answer it e.g.  Romans 3:31 “Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! Instead we uphold the law.”
There’s such a great expanse and depth of thought in the book of Romans and I believe the presence of questions enhances this greatly. Through questions Paul is highlighting the alternatives. When we ask questions we gain insight. Every great discovery begins with a sense of intrigue, a desire to find out more about something.
Questioning can be such a great technique for relating to others. On my bookshelves sits an antiquated copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. One of his precepts is to show a genuine interest in other people. Far too often people like to centre the conversation around themselves. You don’t often learn anything that way. When you ask questions of someone else, they often appreciate the fact that you’re interested in them.
 Another use for questions in a group situation is to draw in the less verbose- the shy or hesitant members who may not be as forthcoming as some but may equally have some interesting points of view to contribute to the discussion.
Often when we are witnessing to an unsaved person we can have the tendency to be “know it alls” when it comes to spiritual truths. Asking questions may provide a way in which the unsaved person can be challenged to think about what they believe. After all, we would like them to ask us questions about what we believe.
As I continue through the book of Romans, I hope I will gain greater insight into Paul’s use of this technique and that it will equip me to minister to others more effectively. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Torches in the Daylight.

“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine”.   (lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen)

How many of us sang those words at Sunday school? Jesus said "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). There are many Bible passages referring to darkness and light. Darkness is symbolic of sin and evil and absence of God. Light is the very opposite – the presence of God.
Light illuminates. It shows the way. It exposes things clearly. It can provide direction. It can be a comfort. It can be decorative and beautiful. Where would we be without traffic lights, lighthouses, signal flares, candles, torches and electric light bulbs, even Christmas lights?
In the Sermon on the Mount, described in Matthew’s gospel, chapter five, Jesus tells his followers
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (v14-16)
When we become a Christian and receive God’s Holy Spirit, God’s light should shine through us to the world around us. There should be something about us as Christians which provides a beacon of light in the midst of dark times.
When do we need a light? When it’s dark. We don’t walk around with a torch on in the middle of the day. Yet I think it’s possible for Christians to do that. We can be full of exuberant worship and talk about the things of God in church on Sunday and with our Christian friends, and it’s a joy to do these things.  Yet when it comes to unsaved family and friends, or workmates we may be hesitant to even declare our faith. We turn our lights off when they should be leading the way through the darkness for others.
There are others, of course, who fully accept the call to shine God's light in the dark places of this world, venturing into some of the most desperate places to take the gospel to those who have no hope, reaching out to drug addicts, prisoners, violent cults and terrorist gangs or taking the word of God into countries where the church is persecuted and it can be risking one's live to declare your faith. 
During World War II in England, people would cover their windows with blackout curtains, and air raid wardens would patrol the streets to ensure that no light was visible. They knew that the tiniest chink of light could be seen a long way off. It takes only a tiny amount of light to pierce the darkness. We don’t need to dazzle our unsaved friends with the light of God’s love. His radiance shines through loving acts, simple conversations, small gestures and the living out of Christian values in our daily lives.  

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Finding the balance

I’ve recently changed my work arrangements. I work in our public health system and I enjoy my job.It can be challenging and demanding but it’s constantly rewarding. I’ve always felt a strong commitment to contributing to a public system which provides high quality care to everyone, especially those who couldn’t afford it otherwise. After twelve years in community health, I’ve transitioned to a new job as an allied health assistant in a facility which assists severely impaired people who use wheelchairs to mobilise. My working hours have reduced significantly, so I have more time at home to attend to other responsibilities and areas of interest.
Health is always about find balances and that word balance is an important aspect of many areas of life, be it physical, emotional, social, psychological and even spiritual. When we concentrate too much on one thing e.g. pleasure, worry, achievement, physical looks, weight, we can often neglect or miss out on other aspects of life.
Remember the old seesaws found in children’s playgrounds? They were little more than a long timber plank on a stand. If you were lucky there was a rubber stopper underneath to save you from thumping too hard on the ground when your end landed. They taught us all about balance – it worked better in partnership; you had to adjust where you sat to keep it even; and it was no fun being high or low all the time.  
As adults we still have to work at maintaining a balance. There are so many choices in life, and our choices have consequences for ourselves and our loved ones. So many things, many of them good in themselves, compete for our time, resources, talents and commitment. We can become overwhelmed by the demands placed on us. It’s then that we need to step back and work out our priorities.
Some things which may need a balance check:
Time alone with God and time for the rest of life
Work and leisure
Family time and solitude
Community or social activities and home life
Spending and saving
Sleep and wakefulness
Healthy eating and treats
Exercise and inactivity
Caring for others and caring for yourself

I put time with God at the top of this list because if I’ve learned anything at all in all the years of my adult life worth sharing, it’s how important it is to put God first in life, and not on the back burner. I’m still learning. I still try to solve problems myself without praying first. I still make plans without consulting Him, until I remember to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
God’s Holy Spirit, which He imparted to his children at Pentecost is known in Greek as the “Parakletos” – the One who comes alongside.  He is with us to be an earthly counsellor and guide. Jesus Himself is called in the Bible our advocate and counsellor. When we take time to pray to God, He gives us wisdom to make decisions which honour Him and produce lives of fruitfulness and fulfilment.